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Israel finds bodies of 3 missing teens

June 30, 2014 8:40 P.M. (Updated: July 2, 2014 12:21 P.M.)
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces scouring the occupied West Bank for signs of three missing Israeli teenagers discovered their bodies Monday afternoon, its army reported.

They were found in a field in the Hebron area, not far from where they went missing, according to reports.

"Following extensive searches in order to retrieve the three abducted teens; Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel, an effort led by the IDF, the ISA and the Israel Police, three bodies were discovered in the area north-west to Hebron, north of the community of Telem," the army said in an emailed statement.

"The bodies are currently going through forensic identification," it added.

"The families of the abducted teens have been notified."

Deputy Israeli defense minister Danny Danon also confirmed their bodies had been discovered, saying they had been murdered by "Hamas terrorists" and calling for a widespread operation to "eradicate" the Islamist movement.

Israeli public radio said the bodies were discovered in a field near Halhul, a town north of Hebron, about 10 minutes from the roadside in the southern West Bank where they were last seen.

Palestinians were quoted in other Israeli media saying massive amounts of forces were surrounding the city.

Israel's military did not immediately respond to inquiries.

Shortly before the news was made public, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin called an urgent meeting of his security cabinet from 9:30 p.m. with ministers expected to take "operative" decisions, public radio said.

The three Israeli teenagers disappeared from the Gush Etzion settlement on June 12.

Israel has blamed Hamas for kidnapping the teens, but the Islamist movement has denied involvement.

Israeli forces launched a military search campaign in response, arresting hundreds of Palestinians and shooting five dead. Over 100 were also injured throughout the operation.

AFP contributed to this report
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