Israel looks for 3 missing Jewish teens in West Bank
JERUSALEM: Israeli forces are searching for three Jewish teenagers who went missing in the occupied West Bank late on Thursday, the military said on Friday.
As media speculated that the trio might have been abducted, large numbers of Israeli soldiers scoured the countryside around the flashpoint city of Hebron, carrying out house-to-house searches in neighboring villages and blocking roads.
Local media said the three youngsters had last been seen trying to hitch-hike home from a religious seminary in the Jewish settlement of Gush Etzion, to the north of Hebron.
“Forces are conducting a widespread operation to locate the individuals,” the military said in a statement.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a special meeting of security ministers and said in a statement that Israel held President Mahmoud Abbas’s Western-backed Palestinian Authority responsible for the safety of the three.
The military did not name the teenagers, who were all males. The newspaper Haaretz said two were aged 16 and one was 19.
Palestinian militants have said in the past that they want to kidnap Israelis to win concessions from the Israeli government. Some 1,027 Palestinian prisoners were freed in 2011 in return for the release of an Israeli soldier held captive in the nearby Gaza Strip for more than five years.
Chief military spokesman Brig.-General Motti Almoz said security agencies were “making a very large intelligence effort to try to glean information on what happened to these three youths in the past hours.”