News / Middle East

Gun Battle Erupts as Israeli Soldiers Seek Missing Teens

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) is flanked by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (L) and Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz as he delivers a statement regarding an operation to locate three missing Israeli teenagers, at a military base near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit Haggai, near Hebron, June 19, 2014.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) is flanked by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (L) and Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz as he delivers a statement regarding an operation to locate three missing Israeli teenagers, at a military base near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit Haggai, near Hebron, June 19, 2014.
Reuters
— Israeli forces traded gunfire with Palestinians on Thursday, the military said, in the fiercest street battles in the occupied West Bank since a search began for three Israeli teenagers missing for a week.

Hospital officials said three Palestinians suffered bullet wounds in the overnight clashes in Jenin, a militant stronghold and the scene of deadly fighting during a Palestinian uprising a decade ago. There were no reported Israeli casualties.

A military statement said about 300 Palestinians, including some who “hurled explosives and opened fire”, confronted soldiers who entered Jenin looking for the three seminary students.

Israel says the Hamas Islamist group abducted them last Thursday as they were hitchhiking near a Jewish settlement.

“The soldiers responded with live fire, identifying hits,” the statement said. It said 30 “terror suspects” were detained in the West Bank, bringing to 280 the number of Palestinians taken into custody over the past week.

Reuters photographers in Jenin heard heavy gunfire during the night, but were kept away from the scene of the clashes by Israeli forces.

Israel has said its West Bank operation is two-fold: to find Gil-Ad Shaer and U.S.-Israeli national Naftali Fraenkel, both aged 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, and to deal a substantial blow to Hamas, a group dedicated to its destruction.

Hebron searches

A statement issued by the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of using the teenagers' disappearance as “a pretext to impose tough punishment against our people and besiege them” in violation of international humanitarian law.

Israeli raids have spread from house-to-house searches in Hebron, a flashpoint town in the area where the three went missing, to raids across the West Bank of institutions believed to provide funding and other support for Hamas.

“The policy of collective punishment conducted by the occupation government against our people and our land requires condemnation by the whole world,” the Palestinian presidential statement said.

While military operations inside Hebron continued, the heavy troop presence around the city appeared to have been scaled back. Some road blocks at entrances to the city were left unmanned, allowing vehicles to enter and leave freely. Paratrooper platoons that had camped by a road nearby were gone.

“We know more today than we did a few days ago, but we still have a way to go,” Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said at a West Bank military headquarters, near the site where the teens are believed to have been abducted.

Charity banned

As part of the crackdown, Israel said on Thursday it was banning the British-based charity Islamic Relief Worldwide [IRW] from operating in the occupied West Bank. It accuses the IRW of being a funding source for the Hamas Islamist movement.

No comment was immediately available from the IRW in Britain. Officials in an affiliate office in the Gaza Strip, International Relief in Palestine, said they had no information about the Israeli decision.

At Bir Zeit University, near the Palestinian town of Ramallah, Israeli soldiers on Thursday seized Hamas posters and flags from a student group affiliated with Hamas.

Soldiers have searched about 900 locations so far, the military said. There has been no word from the missing teenagers nor any public claim of responsibility or ransom demands, including from Hamas.

Hamas has not issued any denial of involvement, however, and on Thursday appeared to praise the apparent abduction.

“Regardless of who was responsible for the operation ... the Palestinian people have the right to use all forms of resistance in order to liberate land and people,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a news conference in the Gaza Strip.

Tunnel explosion

Hamas's armed wing in Gaza said at least six members of its group were killed in the collapse of a tunnel the group had dug close to the border with Israel to infiltrate the Jewish state.

Abbas roundly condemned the kidnappers on Wednesday and promised to hold to account those responsible. His words, in turn, were denounced by Hamas and other factions, who accused him of betraying the national cause.

On Tuesday, Hamas and 10 other Palestinian factions issued a joint communique warning Israel that they would not “stay handcuffed” in the face of its West Bank dragnet - a threat of armed resistance.

Security experts expect the frustration of ordinary Palestinians at Israeli restrictions in the West Bank to mount as the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan is due to begin on June 28 or 29.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid