An Islamic extremist group called Dawlat al-Islam has reportedly claimed responsibility for the alleged kidnappings of three teenagers who went missing from settlements on the West Bank on Friday. The organization, linked to ISIS, distributed pamphlets about the kidnappings in Hebron Israel security services are investigating the claims.
UK Daily Mail ISIS are the group of bloody-thirsty jihadists behind this week’s Iraq insurgency. Israeli soldiers searched the West Bank on Friday for the missing teenagers, who are also feared kidnapped by Palestinian militants.
Authorities offered little detail, with local media only reporting the hitchhiking teenagers left their Yeshiva, or religious seminary, on Thursday night and had not been seen since. Soldiers near Hebron combed the rocky hills of the West Bank searching for them on Friday. The disappearances come after the formation of a Palestinian unity government following the collapse of U.S.-brokered peace talks.
Two Israeli defense officials said authorities believed the teens likely were kidnapped by Palestinian militants, without elaborating. ‘The main mission is to ensure their return,’ said Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz, a military spokesman.
Tsuri Tsuf, a spokesman for a settlement where one of the teens is from, told Israel’s Channel 10 television that his community was ‘greatly worried’ and gathered to pray for the safety of the youths. Authorities found a burned-out car during their search that investigators were examining.
Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency initially imposed a gag order on Friday morning blocking local media from reporting on the incident. Later, an official familiar with the investigation said that one of the teens was an American and that Israeli authorities notified U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to publicly brief journalists.
The three teens are from settlements in the West Bank, territory Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war and that Palestinians are demanding as part of their future state along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.
If Palestinians abducted the teens, it would be the first serious incident to challenge relations with Israel since the formation of a Palestinian unity government earlier this month, led by President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party and backed by the Islamic militant group Hamas.