Last updated: 26 June, 2014

Israel accuses two Hamas members over teen kidnapping

Israel accused Thursday two men it said belong to the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas of kidnapping three Israeli teenagers in the occupied West Bank.

Internal security agency Shin Bet said the men, from the West Bank city of Hebron, had served time in Israeli jails for “terrorist activity.”

“The two principal terrorist suspects in the kidnapping are Marwan Kawasmeh and Amer Abu Eisheh, members of Hamas in Hebron, who are wanted” by Shin Bet and the army, a statement said.

Shin Bet said they had been jailed in the past for taking part in “terrorist activity on behalf of Hamas.”

Abu Eisheh’s father denied, in remarks to AFP, that his son was involved in the disappearance of the youths.

But Omar Abu Eisheh added that he had been without news of his son since June 13, the day after the boys went missing.

After the teens disappeared while hitchhiking in the West Bank, the army launched a vast hunt for them focusing on the Hebron area, detaining hundreds of Palestinians.

There has been no claim of responsibility for their suspected abduction, which Israel has insisted was carried out by Hamas.

In remarks Tuesday, Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal said “we do not have information about what happened.”

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called anew on Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to rescind a reconciliation deal he struck with Hamas in April.

The deal paved the way for the creation of a Hamas-backed Palestinian unity government.

More than 380 Palestinians, two-thirds of them Hamas members, have been arrested by the army in a fortnight of searches.

Troops have also killed five Palestinians and wounded dozens more during what is known as Operation Brother’s Keeper.