Special to WorldTribune.com
JERUSALEM — Israel has blamed Hamas for the abduction of three Jewish teenagers.
Officials said the Israeli intelligence community has determined that Hamas ordered and executed the abduction of three Israeli teenagers on June 12. They said the Hamas cell appeared to come from the Hebron area in the southern West Bank.
“Hamas terrorists carried out Thursday’s [June 12] kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “We know that for a fact.”
Hamas has refrained from claiming responsibility for the abduction. But
Hamas and the rival Fatah movement have celebrated the abduction as a
Palestinian victory that would result in a massive prisoner release.
In a statement on June 15, Netanyahu said Hamas used its reconciliation
deal with Fatah to intensify insurgency operations against Israel. The prime
minister said Hamas increased its presence in the West Bank under the
cover of the new Palestinian Authority unity government.
“We have seen since the signing of that pact an increase in terrorist
activity emanating from the West Bank,” Netanyahu said. “We have seen Hamas
strengthen its presence there, and this increases the likelihood that Hamas
will take control of the Palestinian Authority, precisely as it did in Gaza.
This will not advance peace; it will advance terror.”
Officials said Israel, which rounded up scores of suspected Hamas
leaders, has determined that the three abductees were alive and held
somewhere in Hebron, a city of 80,000. They did not rule out negotiations
with Hamas that could result in another Palestinian prisoner release. In
2011, Israel released more than 1,000 Palestinians in exchange for a
sergeant abducted by Hamas.