U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned Sunday the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, adding that “many indications point to Hamas’ involvement.”
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In a statement to the press, Kerry called for the immediate release of the three victims, who went missing Thursday from the Gush Etzion cluster of settlements, and stated that the United States is still “seeking details on the parties responsible."
Kerry stated that the United States views Hamas as a terrorist organization that carries out attacks against innocents, and that has employed kidnapping as a tactic in the past. "We continue to offer our full support for Israel in its search for the missing teens, and we have encouraged full cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian security services. We understand that cooperation is ongoing,” said Kerry, adding “Our thoughts and prayers are with their families. We hope for their quick and safe return home.”
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Over the weekend, Israeli ambassadors worldwide were instructed to contact the highest officials in their host countries and request they condemn the kidnappings. After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Hamas was involved in the kidnappings, Israel intensified its request for condemnation by the international community.
Kerry’s statement, made three days after the kidnapping took place, came after many other nations made similar condemnations, including Canada, Spain, Norway, Holland and others.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende condemned the kidnappings, demanding the immediate release of the three young Israelis. “In addition, we condemn rocket fire from Gaza,” stated Brende, adding: “the way in which this conflict harms innocents, including children, youths and civilians – is tragic. All involved must do everything they can in order to lower tensions and prevent more violence. Security cooperation between the two sides is important, both for solving the current crisis but also for guaranteeing ongoing safety for civilians.”
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird was the first to make a statement condemning the kidnappings, publishing his remarks on Saturday. “Canada is deeply concerned by reports that three Israeli teenagers may have been kidnapped in the West Bank.
"We urge the Palestinian security authorities, who have been trained through Canadian and U.S. leadership, to make every effort to investigate this incident and work diligently to ensure the safe return of these children to their families,” said Baird, adding: “we call for the immediate release of the three Israeli teenagers. Whoever has taken this action must be found and brought to justice.”
Holland’s ambassador to Israel, Caspar Veldkamp contacted the Prime Minister’s Office and offered a message of solidarity from The Hague. Veldkamp stated that Holland is “very concerned” about what looks like the kidnapping of three Israelis. "We hope Israeli and Palestinian authorities will work closely together to find them,” said Veldkamp, adding: “our hopes and prayers are for their safe return.
'We've been kidnapped'
Israeli security forces continued to search on Sunday for the three teenage yeshiva students who went missing while hitchhiking in the West Bank on Thursday. On Saturday, a closure was imposed on the Hebron region and three border crossings into Gaza were shut. Some 80 Palestinians, including senior Hamas operatives, were arrested overnight in an extensive operation. The IDF called up a limited number of reserves.
Netanyahu said Sunday that Hamas was behind the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrah, 19, from Elad, Gilad Shaar, 16, from Talmon and Naftali Fraenkel, from Nof Ayalon. Netanyahu asserted that he holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for the teens' fate.
On Sunday evening it was cleared for publication that one of the teens called the police emergency line minutes after being abducted and said, "We've been kidnapped."