Is Torched Car Clue in Suspected Kidnap of 3 Jewish Teens on West Bank?

Hitchhikers Still Missing as Shabbat Arrives

Frantic Search: Israeli soldiers search for three missing Jewish settler teens, who have not been seen since Thursday night.
getty images
Frantic Search: Israeli soldiers search for three missing Jewish settler teens, who have not been seen since Thursday night.

By Reuters

Published June 13, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Police believe a torched car with Israeli plates found today by Palestinian police near Hebron may have been used in the suspected kidnapping of three Jewish teenagers who went missing while hitchhiking in the occupied West Bank.

The newish Hyundai sedan may have been used to trick the teens because it appeared to be driven by Israelis, the Times of Israel reported.

Police suspect that extremists have kidnapped or killed the youths, although there is still no hard evidence of foul play.

Crowds gathered at the Western Wall in Jerusalem to pray for the safe return of the trio as Shabbat arrived in the Jewish state.

As media speculated that the three young settlers might have been abducted, large numbers of Israeli soldiers scoured the countryside around the flashpoint city of Hebron, carrying out house-to-house searches in neighboring villages and blocking roads.

Local media said the three youngsters had last been seen trying to hitch-hike home from a religious seminary in the Jewish settlement of Gush Etzion, to the north of Hebron.

“Forces are conducting a widespread operation to locate the individuals,” the military said in a statement.

One of the teens is an American.

Officials didn’t name the youths. An email appeal about the incident from the Zionist Organization of America listed the missing teens’ Hebrew first names as Yaakov Naftali Ben Rochel Devorah, Gilad Michoel Ben Bat Gali and Eyal Ben Iris Teshura.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a special meeting of security ministers and said in a statement that Israel held President Mahmoud Abbas’s Western-backed Palestinian Authority responsible for the safety of the three.

But Adnan al-Dmairi, a spokesman for Palestinian security services in the West Bank, deflected Israel’s criticism.

“Three settlers are missing, why is this the fault of the Palestinian Authority? We have nothing to do with this issue. If a natural disaster hits Israel, would we be responsible? This is mad and unacceptable, we have no knowledge about this,” he said.

The newspaper Haaretz said two were aged 16 and one was 19. Local media added that one of the three also held American citizenship, and that the U.S. ambassador to Israel had been briefed.

Secretary of State John Kerry “expressed grave concern … and … our commitment to working with both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to try to ensure the situation is resolved quickly and the teenagers are returned to their families,” a U.S. spokesman said.

“Secretary Kerry has … spoken to President Abbas to urge him to do everything possible to assist in the effort to find them. President Abbas assured him that he is doing so.”

Kerry met Israeli chief peace negotiator Tzipi Livni at a conference in London and later also spoke to Netanyahu, an Israeli spokesman said.

“The prime minister said to Kerry: Abu Mazen (Abbas) is responsible for the wellbeing of the missing (boys),” part of the Israeli statement about the conversation said.

Palestinian militants have said in the past that they want to kidnap Israelis to win concessions from the Israeli government. Some 1,027 Palestinian prisoners were freed in 2011 in return for the release of an Israeli soldier held captive in the nearby Gaza Strip for more than five years.

Chief military spokesman Brigadier-General Motti Almoz said security agencies were “making a very large intelligence effort to try to glean information on what happened to these three youths in the past hours”.

In September 2013, an Israeli soldier was kidnapped and killed by a Palestinian who had lured him to the West Bank. Police say the kidnapper wanted to use the soldier to obtain the release of his brother, held in an Israeli jail.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.