Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denied accusations made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday that the terrorist organization was to blame for the kidnapping of three Israeli teens.
Abu Zuhri called the accusations "stupid" and said that they were a bluff intended to acquire information, Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported.
Abu Zuhri told Ma'an that the arrests carried out by occupation forces in the West Bank were "designed to break Hamas," but they would not succeed in achieving their goal.
Hamas is behind the kidnapping of the three teenagers late Thursday night, Netanyahu said on Sunday at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, which was held at the defense compound in Tel Aviv.
"This morning I can say what I was unable to say yesterday before the extensive wave of arrests of Hamas members in Judea and Samaria," Netanyahu said.
Those who perpetrated the abduction of our youths were members of Hamas – the same Hamas that Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] made a unity government with," Netanyahu said.
"This has severe repercussions," he added.
"We are currently focusing all of our efforts on bringing the abductees back home," Netanyahu said.
Before the meeting the prime minister said, he spoke with the families of the captive teens. It's the second conversation he has had with the families since Friday.
"I embrace and encourage them from here, from the Cabinet table, and I know that I speak for all parts of the nation," Netanyahu said.
Earlier the IDF arrested 80 Hamas members - including members of the Palestinian Legislative Council - in a massive wave of raids throughout the West Bank early on Sunday, as part of Israel's response to the kidnapping
While suspicions appeared to to be falling on Hamas
as being behind the abduction,a security source said the wave of arrests did not mean that Hamas definitely carried it out.
He described the operational pattern of the kidnappers as "certainly being complex and different," suggesting that a terrorist organization was involved.
Hamas leaders Hassan Yousef, Wasfi Qabaha, Khaled Abu Arafeh and Mohammed Totah were among those arrested by the IDF, according to Palestinian reports.
The military also declared a closure for parts of the south Judea region, from Bethlehem southwards.