UPDATE 07:00 EDT 14 Jun: One rocket struck southern Israel this morning. The IDF has struck two sites in Gaza.
Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are cooperating fully with Israel in the search for the three abducted Israelis. Hamas slammed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday for aiding Israel in the search for three missing teenagers believed to have been abducted. Security coordination between (Prime Minister Rami) Hamdallah’s and Abbas’s security services and the enemy to locate the heroes of the Hebron operation and arrest them is a stigma,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.
This incident is putting a big strain on the Hamas Fatah reconciliation interim deal.
Israel is rejecting the claims of Salafi perpetration and doing their best to blame Hamas. Israel has launched a series of raids in the Hebron area rounding up Hamas members. Hamas sources told Turkish news agency Anatolia that Israel arrested 16 of its members, among them two women.
It appears that a lone driver picked up the hitchhiking young men and drove them to a prepared place where he stopped and the three were taken by massed gunmen. This was a sophisticated and well planned operation and doubtless contained well laid plans for a holding area.
The attackers are judged to be hiding in the cave complexes around Hebron and Israel is putting together a scenario blaming Hamas.
The Hebron area has long been a Hamas stronghold and Israel is engaged in a major operation to find their young men and root out Hamas.
“The Hebron district of the southern West Bank is a hotbed of extremist Palestinian groups, it is hilly, covered in dense foliage and riddled with hundreds if not thousands of caves, some of which are virtually inaccessible. Wanted terrorists have in the past stayed hidden in those cave systems for months, before they were hunted down by Israeli special forces, usually only after tip-offs.” DEBKA
UPDATE 16:30 EDT: An extremist Salafist organization in the West Bank claimed responsibility for kidnapping three missing Israeli youths, Channel 10 is reporting. The organization, Dawlat al-Islam, released a statement saying that the abductions were aimed at taking revenge against Israel for the killing of three of their operatives in the West Bank months ago. This claim is confirmed by Hamas.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened senior defense officials for a second meeting late Friday.
Netanyahu earlier today announced that he is holding the new Palestinian interim government responsible for the three abducted boys, throwing the PLO into a panic and bringing the Palestinian reconciliation to the point of collapse.
The new Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah is distancing himself from Gaza and Hamas, saying Friday that the unity government has no practical authority in the Gaza Strip, whether for dismantling the armed militias there, integrating Gaza’s security mechanisms in the West Bank services, or tax and power payments by citizens.
In a New York Times interview, Hamdallah said he was not satisfied with the coalition government set up by Fatah and Hamas and if it was up to him, few of the ministers lined would have been appointed.
On the other hand A senior Islamic Jihad official in Gaza called on the Palestinians on Friday to resume kidnappings of Israeli soldiers in order to use them as bargaining chips which would be traded for
Three Israeli Teens Abducted
Three students, two of them from the Makor Chaim Yeshiva in the religious kibbutz Kfar Etzion went missing Thursday night in what officials say was likely a kidnapping by terrorists. The three missing 17-19 year old boys from the Israeli West Bank Settlement of Yeshivat Etzion near Hebron are feared kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists.
While no group has as yet claimed responsibility, it has the appearance of an action by the Hamas Military Wing to destroy the new Palestinian interim government.
All communication was lost with them as they were on their way home from the yeshiva, located in Gush Etzion, roughly between Jerusalem and Hevron in Judea; security sources suspect they were taken into a vehicle driven by terrorists that stopped for them as they waited at a popular hitchhiking spot.
Massive IDF and police forces have been searching in the hours since the suspected kidnapping to try and locate the three young students, one of whom is a joint Israeli-American citizen.
An IDF Spokesperson Unit statement noted that the IDF Chief of Staff has put all active units on full readiness to take action based on intelligence information.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has called an emergency meeting with security officials at the IDF’s Tel Aviv headquarters; earlier the PM met in Jerusalem with the Defense Minister and Internal Security Minister over the crisis.
Even though it is not known who took the boys, Netanyahu’s office held the Palestinian Authority leadership responsible for the boys’ disappearance.
“Israel holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for the well being of the 3 missing Israeli teens,” the PM’s spokesman Ofir Gendelman wrote on Twitter.
The Arab Ma’an News Agency cited local Arab sources on Friday, saying IDF forces were searching the town of Dura to the southwest of Hevron. Palestinian media has just released footage of a burned-out car and IDF forces conducting searches, apparently in the aftermath of the kidnap and search.
Meanwhile, in the last few minutes Hamas spokesman Hassan Badran broke the Islamist group’s silence on the episode, and openly called on Palestinians in Judea and Samaria to obstruct the Israeli effort to find the boys, who he referred to as “Israeli occupiers”.