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Israeli forces search for three missing settlers

terça-feira 17 de junho de 2014, por Ahmad Jaradat,

Israel holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for the three missing settlers

Photo: PressTV

Israeli forces carried out search and arrest operations in the Hebron governorate, looking for three settlers gone missing since Thursday night. The forces searched towns of the area and neighborhoods of Hebron itself, storming houses and arresting more that 20 Palestinians. During the operation the troops forcefully confiscated surveillance cameras from local shops.

The missing teenagers - Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shayer and Naftali Frenkel - are residents of West Bank settlements and Yeshiva students in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc.

While Israeli security officials have yet to confirm that the missing teens were in fact kidnapped, Israeli political figures and army commanders suggest that this is the unfortunate reality.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu declared Saturday night that the teens were abducted and vowed that Israel would find and bring them home.

"Our boys were kidnapped by a terror group, undoubtedly," Netanyahu told a press conference at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv. "They were kidnapped by a terror group."

Netanyahu also said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is responsible for the fate of the teens, although the culprits were not affiliated to the Palestinian Authority.

The three youths disappeared late Thursday night between the settlements of Kfar Etzion and Alon Shvut, situated southwest of Jerusalem, as they were attempting to hitchhike home. The Israeli General Security Services (Shin Bet) and miltary’s Central Command are treating their disappearance as a “terrorist kidnapping,” given that, among other things, their cell phones stopped broadcasting GPS signals from the location where they were last seen.

Palestinian security sources say that a car believed to have Israeli license plates was found on fire Thursday night and that civil forces had extinguished the fire, suggesting that the car, a Hyundai A35, was related to the disappearance.

During the search and arrest operations clashes broke out in the Hebron-area town of Halhul on Friday night when soldiers tried to confiscate monitoring cameras.

One Palestinian was hit with live ammunition in his chest while another was wounded by a rubber bullet. Arrests were also reported during the clashes.
Clashes were also reported in Dura, al Fawwar refugee camp and different parts of the city of Hebron.

Palestinian security sources say that large numbers of Israeli troops were deployed Saturday in the Hebron neighborhoods of Beer al-Mahjar, Ein Sara, Nimra and Ras al-Joura.

The Israeli press reported that over 2,000 soldiers were deployed in the Hebron area. Three battalions from the Paratroopers Brigade and another battalion from the Kfir Brigade were sent to the West Bank to deal with a possible outbreak of violence.

Ofir Gendelman, spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said that Israel holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for the three missing settlers.

A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority security services denounced Israel’s efforts to blame the PA for the disappearance of the three settlers. The spokesman, Adnan Dmeiri, said the PA was not responsible for the safety of settlers and had no way to prevent the possible kidnapping of the teenagers in an area under the complete control of Israel.

Nonetheless, US Secretary of State John Kerry asked President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday to assist in Israel’s search for the three. Israel’s Channel 2 reported that Kerry phoned Abbas to discuss several issues, including the missing settlers.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to Kerry, stressing his stance that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’ unity government was to blame for the suspected kidnapping.

"Abu Mazen (Abbas) is responsible for the safety of the teens," Netanyahu said to Kerry. "This is the result of allowing a terrorist organization to join the government."

Ver online : Alternative Information Center