JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’s help yesterday in securing the release of three kidnapped teenagers, as the army launched a crackdown on Islamist movement Hamas.
Netanyahu’s phone call to Abbas was their first direct political contact since 2012, and took place as Israel carried out a vast search operation in the West Bank to find the three youths, whom the Israeli premier said were kidnapped by Hamas militants last week.
As the manhunt entered its fourth day, Israeli troops arrested scores of Hamas members, among them MPs and former ministers, bringing the total number of Palestinians rounded up since Friday to 150.
Abbas’s office issued a statement condemning “the kidnapping of three Israeli youths”. But it also denounced Israel’s “raids on Palestinian homes” and arrests of “many innocents” during which a 19-year-old Palestinian was killed.