The kidnapping of three Israeli teens last Thursday cannot be tolerated, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said today in remarks commended by senior Israeli officials.
The boys are "human beings like us, and we must look for them and return them to their families," Abbas said at a conference in Saudi Arabia, adding that the Palestinian Authority is coordinating with Israel to try to find them.
Hamas, the Palestinian militant group accused by Israel of taking the boys, criticized Abbas' comments as "harmful" to Palestinian interests. Hamas denies kidnapping the teens, though senior Israeli and Palestinian officials agree that the abductors were likely tied to -- or part of -- Hamas but operating without orders from the organization's leadership.
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Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni was one of several Israeli officials to commend Abbas, saying that his remarks were "important, accurate and they reflect the true reality."
Israeli forces continued their raids in the West Bank in the search for the teens and their kidnappers. An additional 65 Palestinians were arrested overnight, including 51 who were part of the 2011 prisoner exchange with Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held by Hamas for five years. Since the search started Friday, 240 Palestinians have been arrested in the operation dubbed "Brother's Keeper," the army said.
Palestinian President Condemns Kidnapping of Israeli Teens