Israel identifies Hamas kidnappers of missing Jewish teens

Jerusalem: Two Hamas operatives from the southern West Bank city of Hebron are believed to be responsible for the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens who went missing two weeks ago, the Israeli Shin Bet Security Agency revealed Thursday.

Central Hamas operatives Marwan Al-Quasma and Amar Abu Aisha, who were imprisoned by Israel in the past, are the main suspects behind the abduction, Xinhua quoted the agency as saying in a statement.

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Following the news of the kidnapping, Palestinian security forces delivered the names of the two to their Israeli counterparts after their families reported that they did not return home two weeks ago, Palestinian officials told Israel’s Walla news website.

According to the Shin Bet, Al-Quasma is the nephew of a former Hamas militant commander who was involved in attacks against Israeli civilians and was arrested several times. Abu Aisha also comes from a family of Hamas operatives. His brother was killed in a clash with the Israeli army in 2005.

A family member of Amar Abu Aisha told Walla that Israeli security forces had arrived at their house in Hebron and taken family members for questioning regarding Amar’s possible whereabouts.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Shin Bet’s announcement shows that Hamas is behind the attack.

“We said that those who committed this crime were Hamas militants and today the Shin Bet published the names of two members of this group, Hamas men,” Netanyahu said at a military ceremony at the southern Negev desert.

“I expect (Palestinian President Mahmoud) Abbas, who said important things in Saudi Arabia, to stand by his words and dissolve his agreement with the terrorist organization that kidnaps teens and calls for the destruction of Israel,” the prime minister added.

Last week, Abbas urged those who held the three Israelis to release them, saying whoever is behind the attack is vowing to destroy the Palestinian National Authority.

Both Israeli and Palestinian media said that the Palestinian authority is rethinking its partnership with Hamas and the recently established national unity government.

The reconciliation between Abbas’ Fatah party and Hamas, including the establishment of a new Palestinian unity government, was the official reason held by Israel for suspending its peace talks with the Palestinians in late April.

Thousands of Israeli security forces have been deployed across the West Bank in the past two weeks to track down the missing Israeli teens and the two wanted Palestinians, in coordination with the Palestinian Authority’s security forces.