On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear that the terrorist organization Hamas is responsible for the recent abduction and kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers.
The teenagers, who went missing from Jewish settlements in the West Bank, who have been missing since last Thursday, were last seen hitchhiking near Gush Etzion, according to the Israeli Defense Forces. One of the teens holds American citizenship.
“This morning I can say what I was unable to say yesterday before the extensive wave of arrests of Hamas members in Judea and Samaria,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “Those who perpetrated the abduction of our youths were members of Hamas — the same Hamas that Abu Mazen made a unity government with. This has severe repercussions.”
Netanyahu condemned new Palestinian President Mahmoud Abas’ agreements with Hamas, stating that he would hold Abas responsible to whatever happened to the Israeli teens.
The same day that Netanyahu made these accusations, Israeli troops arrested some 80 Palestinians, along with dozens of members of Hamas, as apart of an overnight raid in the West Bank. Among those arrested were founding members of Hamas, along with ministers and members of the Palestinian government.
While Hamas has praised the supposed kidnappings, the Palestinian government, in turn, has rejected Netanyahu’s claims that they are responsible. Previous to Sunday, Netanyahu had refrained from placing blame on any specific group. Netanyahu has not stated how the Israeli government determined that it was Hamas who perpetrated the attacks.
The Israeli government asked the Palestinian government “to do everything to help bring [the Israeli teens] back in peace.”
These kidnappings and arrests only further block the road to reducing conflict in the region. In a last ditch effort to broker some form of peace, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has also called for the immediate release of the Israeli boys. Although the U.S. has yet to place blame for the alleged kidnapping, Kerry is also suspicious of Hamas.
“We are still seeking details on the parties responsible for this despicable terrorist act, although many indications point to Hamas’ involvement,” Kerry said in a written statement that offered support to the Israeli government. “As we gather this information, we reiterate our position that Hamas is a terrorist organization known for its attacks on innocent civilians and which has used kidnapping in the past.”