Israel Warns Will Hit Hamas Over Teens Abducted in West Bank

Monday, 16 Jun 2014 11:47 AM

 

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Israeli security forces prepared for a “broad operation” against Hamas as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded that the Palestinian leadership help to find three teenagers kidnapped in the West Bank.

Netanyahu convened a meeting with top military and intelligence officers after speaking by phone with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who condemned the June 12 abduction at a hitchhiking station south of Jerusalem.

The Israeli premier told Abbas that he “expects your help” in finding the teens, according to a text message from his office in Jerusalem. Netanyahu has accused Hamas militants of abducting the youths, and in the call pressed his argument that the kidnapping was facilitated by Abbas’s June 2 formation of a joint government with the group.

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“We have to understand the implications of partnership with Hamas -- it’s bad for Israel, bad for Palestinians and bad for the region,” the Israeli leader said.

The Islamist Hamas, which is labeled a terrorist group by Israel, the U.S. and European Union, has praised the kidnapping while steering clear of taking responsibility. Netanyahu said Israeli intelligence showed clearly that the group was behind the abduction, and Israel’s military chief said the group would be targeted.

‘Broad Operation’

“We’re preparing for a broad operation,” Lieutenant General Benny Gantz told Channel 2 television. “Our aim is to find the three boys, bring them home and hurt Hamas as much as possible.”

Hamas held Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit captive in Gaza for five years before trading him in 2011 for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

As tensions with the Palestinians mounted, the benchmark TA-25 index rose 0.3 percent to 1,397.14 at 5:37 p.m. in Tel Aviv. Five-year credit-default swaps insuring against losses jumped 8.7 percent today, the first full trading day since Israel confirmed the abduction on June 14.

Israeli forces expanded their search through the West Bank, arresting scores of Palestinians -- including the Hamas- affiliated speaker of the dormant Palestinian parliament -- and calling up a limited number of reserve troops. Soldiers killed a Palestinian man in Ramallah during a clash in the course of an arrest raid, the military said in a statement. More than 150 Palestinians have been arrested since yesterday, the military said in a separate statement.

Egyptian Cooperation?

Egypt is cooperating with Israel in searching for the teens, destroying tunnels under its border with the Gaza Strip that could be used to smuggle them out, the Haaretz newspaper said, without citing where it got the information. An Israeli government spokesman declined to comment on the report when contacted by phone.

Channel 2 reported yesterday that one of the teens called the emergency police hotline to report the abduction and police took hours to act. Police commissioner Yochanan Danino said the main objective now was to find the youths.

One of them is a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

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