Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that he expected his assistance in the return of three teens believed to have been kidnapped.
Monday’s conversation was the first between the two leaders in more than a year. Abbas later released a statement condemning the kidnapping — his first such statement, according to Haaretz.
Israel has accused Hamas, the terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip, of carrying out the abduction.
“I expect you to assist in returning the abducted youths and in apprehending the kidnappers,” Netanyahu told Abbas, according to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office. “The Hamas kidnappers came from territory under Palestinian Authority control and returned to territory under Palestinian Authority control.
“This incident exposes the true face of the terrorism that we are fighting against. Terrorists abduct innocent Israeli children while we save the lives of ill Palestinian children in our hospitals. This is the difference between our humanitarian policy and the murderous terrorism that is attacking us.”
Speaking of the new Palestinian unity government with the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, 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.”
The three Israeli teens, including one dual Israeli-American citizen, have been missing since the night of June 12. They were last seen trying to get rides home from a yeshiva high school in Gush Etzion, a bloc of settlements located south of Jerusalem.
In a statement given to the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, Abbas “condemned the latest escalations in the West Bank, including the kidnapping of three Israeli settlers and the ongoing series of violations, by Israeli soldiers and settlers, against innocent Palestinian civilians and against prisoners, held in Israeli jails.”
The statement called on all sides to refrain from violence and restated Abbas’ position “to continue with the extensive efforts to ensure the release of Palestinian prisoners, held in Israeli jails, when a final peace deal with Israel is signed.”
Also Monday, the Israel Defense Forces called on the Israeli public to “behave responsibly and not take part in the promotion of unsubstantiated rumors” on social media including Facebook and Twitter.
The IDF also confirmed Monday that Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian the previous day near Ramallah after Israeli troops came under attack from Palestinian rioters during a raid of a Hamas target. The Palestinian was killed as he attempted to throw a brick at Israeli soldiers, according to the IDF.
The International Red Cross on Sunday night called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of the three Israeli teens.
“We are very concerned by the fate of the teenagers. International humanitarian law prohibits abduction as well as the taking of hostages,” said Robert Mardini, head of ICRC operations in the Middle East. “They must be treated humanely, and their lives and dignity protected and respected.”