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Israel searching for 3 missing settlers in West Bank

June 13, 2014 5:03 P.M. (Updated: June 14, 2014 11:58 A.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- The Israeli military said Friday it was searching for three teenagers who disappeared from a settlement the night before in the occupied West Bank.

An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed earlier reports that the settlers were missing and said an operation was ongoing to retrieve them.

The military had earlier sent a large number of reinforcements to the Hebron district in search of three missing settlers they fear may have been kidnapped.

The settlers were able to contact the army before they went missing but the line of communication was reportedly cut.

Israeli forces raided a number of homes in the Sanjar area of Dura, a city southwest of Hebron, in search of the settlers after they disappeared from the Gush Etzion area.

Locals said that Israeli forces raided a number of private homes in the neighborhood, although it was unclear if there had been any detentions, and a military reconnaissance plane was reportedly flying over southern Hebron.

Israeli forces erected checkpoints at Halhul Bridge north of Hebron as well as in the village of Beit Kahil, northwest of Hebron, locals added.

A Palestinian security official said that a car believed to have Israeli license plates was found on fire last night and that civil forces had extinguished the fire, suggesting that the car, which was a Hyundai A35, was related to the disappearance.

Eyewitnesses said Friday that Israeli special forces who were searching the area inspected the car and removed several objects.

Witnesses added that after prayers ended a number of locals gathered in the area, but that Israeli soldiers pushed them away and warned them to stay away from the vehicle.

Ofir Gendelman, spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said that Israel holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for the three missing settlers.
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