US Backing of PA Unity Gov't. 'Encourages Terror'
JERUSALEM, Israel -- As security forces continue to search for three Jewish teenagers abducted on their way home from school Thursday evening, Israeli Tourism Minister Uzi Landau said the Obama administration bears some responsibility for the incident.
"The willingness of the U.S. administration to effectively recognize the [Mahmoud] Abbas-Hamas government causes damage to the security of Israel's citizens and encourages terror," Landau said in a statement Sunday.
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Abbas by phone he expects him "to assist in returning the abducted youths and in apprehending the kidnappers," the Prime Minister's Office reported.
"The Hamas kidnappers came from territory under Palestinian Authority control and returned to territory under Palestinian Authority control. This incident exposes the true face of the terrorism we are fighting against," Netanyahu said.
"The consequences of the partnership with Hamas must be understood; it is bad for Israel, bad for the Palestinians and bad for the region," he said.
Meanwhile, both Fatah and Hamas blamed Netanyahu for house-to-house searches in Hebron. Israeli forces detained more than 100 Hamas members, among them a few senior government officials.
The Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement Sunday calling on the international community to condemn Israel's response to the kidnapping, the PLO's WAFA news agency reported.
The PLO holds Netanyahu "responsible for the 'terrorist' and 'aggressive' behavior of Israeli settlers, as well as for their illegal presence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory [sic] in accordance with Geneva conventions and the international humanitarian law," the statement read.
Palestinian Legislative Council chairman Salim Zanoun accused Israel of using the kidnappings as a "pretext" for carrying out "collective punishment," while Hamas advised Palestinians in Judea to erase security camera footage that could be used to trace the terrorist's escape.
Islamic Jihad condemned cooperation between P.A. and Israeli security forces.
"The coordination between the Palestinian Authority's forces in the West Bank and the occupation army is akin to betrayal," Islamic Jihad member Khaled al-Batash told reporters in Gaza, Israel Hayom reported.
In Gaza and in Hebron, people celebrated the kidnapping with dancing, singing, and passing out candy in the streets.
In related news, Israeli aircraft targeted the terror infrastructure in Gaza in response to four rockets fired at Ashkelon over the weekend. An Iron Dome anti-missile battery intercepted two of the rockets and the other two fell in open areas with no injury or damage to residents.
Gaza-based terror cells have fired more than 200 rockets on southern Israeli communities since the beginning of the year, the IDF Spokesman's Office said in statement Monday.