A senior Islamic Jihad official in Gaza called on the Palestinians on Friday to resume kidnappings of Israeli soldiers in order to use them as bargaining chips which would be traded for jailed terrorists, Hashavua Ma'ariv reported.

The official, Khaled al-Batash, told worshippers at a mosque in Gaza that “kidnapping soldiers is the only way to free prisoners.”

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His remarks came hours before Israeli forces launched a manhunt in search of three yeshiva youths who went missing in the Hebron area before dawn Friday.

Al-Batash noted that Palestinian prisoners have been released only as part of swaps involving kidnapped soldiers.

“The hunger strike of our prisoners; the patience of the residents of Gaza, Jerusalem, the West Bank, Haifa, and Acre; and our suicide bombers – this is the way to restore justice to our nation,” he said.

The Jihad official called on Palestinians in the West Bank to “cause trouble and disrupt settlers’ meeting points so that Israel understands that it isn’t just one side that is suffering.”

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