Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister accused the militant Islamic group of the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers who went missing three days ago.
This incident escalated the already tense conditions between the Palestinian government and Israel. The new government is headed by Mahmud Abbas who is backed by the West, but he is also backed by Hamas.
Israel’s Netanyahu condemned the agreement by Abbas with the militant organization and said he would hold Abbas responsible for the youths’ safety. The three disappeared while apparently hitchhiking late Thursday in the West Bank.
The three, of which one is an American citizen, have not been seen or heard of since Thursday.
Officials from the Palestinian government condemned the crackdown overnight and rejected the contention of the Israeli PM that they were responsible. At the same time, Hamas praised the alleged kidnapping but did stop short of claiming responsibility.
Speaking on Sunday to his cabinet Netanyahu said he had no doubt that the party responsible was Hamas.
He said those perpetrating the abduction are Hamas members, the same group that Abu Mazen made a government of unity with. Netanyahu said the incident would have severe repercussions. Abbas is also referred to as Abu Mazen.
Netanyahu would not say how it was determined by Israel that Hamas was the responsible party for the kidnappings.
Palestinians militants repeatedly have threatened kidnapping Israelis, with the hope of using them to bargain for the release of the many prisoners Israel holds.
The raid by Israeli troops overnight concentrated in Hebron a city in the southern area of the West Bank, in the same area that the three youths disappeared.
A website of Hamas said over 60 of the people arrested were members of the group, including a number of its senior members.
In addition, members of a group called the Islamic Jihad were arrested.
The Palestinians said they are not to blame since the teens were missing from an area that was under compete Israeli control.