JERUSALEM, Israel -- An American-Israeli teenager was reportedly one of three Israeli teens apparently kidnapped by terrorists in Judea (the West Bank) two nights ago. News of the three first broke on Friday.
The teenagers left their yeshiva (Jewish religious school) in Gush Etzion (a settlement bloc about 15 minutes from Jerusalem) late Thursday evening and were last seen at a hitchhiking station. Contact was reportedly lost with them between 9:30 and 10:30 pm.
Israeli forces were continuing an intensive search for the three on Saturday as the Israeli public was awaiting news.
Palestinians reported that the IDF had arrested a number of Palestinians overnight.
IDF searches were concentrated in the Hebron area in the southern West Bank and roads were blocked to prevent the terrorists from transporting the three to the Gaza Strip.
Analysts said there is suspicion the operation is intended to secure the release of Palestinian security prisoners from Israeli jails. There have been more than a dozen attempted kidnappings in the last year.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Secretary of State John Kerry. His office said he told Kerry the abduction was the “destructive result” of the new Palestinian government backed by Fatah and Hamas.
Netanyahu said he is holding the Palestinian Authority responsible for the well-being of the three teens.
The U.S. said it could not confirm whether one of the teens was an American.