الخميس , يونيو 11 2020

Israeli PM demands Abbas search help

Gilad Shaar (l), Naftali Frenkel (c) and Eyal YifrachThe three teens disappeared on Thursday while hitchhiking home

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has told the Palestinian president he expects his help in finding three Israelis believed kidnapped in the West Bank.

Mr Netanyahu telephoned Mahmoud Abbas amid an intensive search for the teenagers missing since Thursday.

Israel blames Hamas, and has arrested dozens of Palestinians and Hamas officials. Hamas denies involvement.

Mr Abbas condemned the “kidnapping of three Israeli boys and… Israeli violations” since they went missing.

Palestinian medics say a 19-year-old Palestinian was shot dead during clashes near Ramallah, which erupted after soldiers conducted house-to-house searches on Sunday night.



Hitchhikers near Hebron

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The BBC’s Yolande Knell drives down the road where the teenagers went missing, and talks to young Israelis hitching a lift

They said Ahmad Arafat died after being shot in the chest in the Jalazoun refugee camp.

The Israeli military said it was investigating the report.

Israeli forces have arrested 150 Palestinians, including leading Hamas members, to try to glean information on the youths’ whereabouts.

Palestinian parliament Speaker Aziz Dweik, who is a member of Hamas, was among those arrested overnight.

The teenagers’ disappearance has triggered one the most intensive Israeli search operations in the West Bank for years.

Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar, who are both 16, and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrach went missing at a junction near the city of Hebron as they hitchhiked their way home.



The three kidnapped teenagers

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Naftali Frenkel holds US-Israeli citizenship.

On Monday, Mr Netanyahu told President Abbas he expected him to help find the youths and apprehend the kidnappers.

“The Hamas kidnappers came from territory under Palestinian Authority control and returned to territory under Palestinian Authority control. This incident exposes the true face of the terrorism that we are fighting against,” Mr Netanyahu said.



Israeli soldiers

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Quentin Sommerville: “Israel is gripped by the story of the missing youths”

The prime minister said the incident was the “consequences of the partnership with Hamas”, with whom Mr Abbas signed a unity deal in April after years of division.

Hamas is committed to Israel’s destruction and is regarded as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the US, EU and other countries.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called Mr Netanyahu’s accusations “silly” and said the arrests were “aimed at breaking the will of the Islamist movement in the West Bank”.

The teenagers’ disappearance is seen as the biggest strain on relations between the two sides since a new Palestinian government, backed by Hamas, was sworn in earlier this month.

Palestinian officials have said they are co-operating with the search – a move Hamas has condemned.

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