With no sign of progress in locating the three Israeli teenagers understood to have been kidnapped on Thursday by Hamas, the Israel Defense Forces(IDF) have started a mass crackdown across the West Bank.
On Monday night, the forces arrested over 40 key Hamas leaders. As the search entered its fifth day, IDF arrested over 200 Palestinians in total.
Most of those rounded up are from Hamas, including activists and political leaders. 10 legislators of the non-functioning Palestinian parliament, including speaker Aziz Dweik, have been detained by the Army, reported The Times of Israel.
It has been reported that Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Frankel, 16, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16, were kidnapped on Thursday night. The teens, who are seminarians, were last seen hitchhiking in the Etzion Bloc of settlements south of Jerusalem late on Thursday.
The Israeli government has put the blame on Hamas and stated that it holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for the safety of the abducted teenagers.
Even as security forces have intensified their search, there is still no information on the kidnapped teens. Following this, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has now demanded the help of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
"This is a serious event, and it will have serious consequences," Netanyahu said.
In a rare telephone conversation with his Palestinian counterpart, Netanyahu demanded his help, even though the Palestinian and Israeli security forces have been conducting joint operations across the disputed region.
"I expect you to assist in returning the abducted youths and in apprehending the kidnappers," Netanyahu said in an official statement, reported TSB. "The Hamas kidnappers came from territory under Palestinian Authority control and returned to territory under Palestinian Authority control."
Referring directly about the Palestinian unity government, which was formed with the support of Hamas and Abbas' Fatah movement, Netanyahu added: "The consequences of the partnership with Hamas must be understood: It is bad for Israel, bad for the Palestinians and bad for the region."
Palestinian President Abbas later reportedly published a statement, condemning the series of events starting with "the kidnapping of the three Israeli youths and ending with the series of Israeli violations," including Army raids on Palestinian homes.
The Israelis, inspired by a Nigerian incident which generated the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, have now started a #BringBackOurBoys campaign on Twitter to garner international solidarity to find the missing Israeli boys.