Netanyahu: Terror group kidnapped three teens missing from West Bank

BY Elisabeth Ponsot  June 14, 2014 at 3:39 PM EDT

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday that a terror group is responsible for the abduction of three teens missing from the West Bank, the Associated Press reports.

“Our children were kidnapped by a terror group,” he said. “There is no doubt about that.”

A military source told Reuters it was not known if the teens were dead or alive, but Netanyahu said the “working assumption” is that the missing boys are alive until they learn otherwise.

The Israeli military identified the missing teens as Naftali Frenkel, 16, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19. Frenkel is reportedly a U.S. citizen.

According to reports, the teens were picked up by militants while trying to hitchhike from a Jewish settlement in the West Bank on Thursday night.

“It appears this event slipped under our radar,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said. “But we will not rest until we free the youths and put our hands on the terrorists who are responsible for this operation.”

Yaalon said Israel’s Defense Forces had prevented more than a dozen similar kidnapping attempts so far this year.

According to the AP, Netanyahu has blamed the Palestinian Authority for the teens’ disappearance, but Palestinian officials say they are assisting Israeli forces to find the missing boys.