Israeli forces searching for three Jewish teenagers who went missing.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Egypt has reportedly begun taking measures to help clarify events surrounding the abduction of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank and mediating for their release, a senior Egyptian official told Palestinian news agency Ma'an on Sunday.
According to the report, Egyptian security forces were conducting talks with Palestinian officials, in attempts to open third-party channels of communication with various Palestinian terror groups, particularly Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
The unnamed Egyptian source told Ma'an that the situation would likely to be resolved soon.
He added that the three kidnapped Israelis - Gilad Sha'ar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Frankel - were, for now, "still in Palestine."
Meanwhile, Israel deployed a bulk of the reservists to Hebron, to help the IDF maintain its closure on the city and to step up its efforts to hunt for the three teenagers
who disappeared last Thursday night after hitching a ride in the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank.
Also on Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu blamed Hamas for the kidnapping, despite the terror organization's denial of responsibility for the abduction.
He charged that the Fatah-Hamas unity pact and the international endorsement of the new Palestinian government sponsored by both factions for creating a climate that enabled the kidnapping.
However, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denied Netanyahu’s “stupid” accusations
and said they were a bluff intended to acquire information, Ma'an reported.
The IDF arrested overnight 80 Hamas members - including members of the Palestinian Legislative Council - in a massive wave of raids throughout the West Bank.
While suspicions point to Hamas as being behind the abduction,a security source said the wave of arrests did not mean that Hamas definitely carried it out.
Abu Zuhri told Ma'an that the arrests by “occupation forces” in the West Bank were "designed to break Hamas," but they would not succeed in achieving their goal.
Hamas leaders Hassan Yousef, Wasfi Qabaha, Khaled Abu Arafeh and Mohammed Totah were among those arrested by the IDF, according to Palestinian reports.Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.