Israeli forces clashed with Palestinians in Jenin this morning in the most violent confrontation so far in the search for three Israeli teens kidnapped last Thursday while hitchhiking in the West Bank. The AP reports that Israeli soldiers entered the West Bank city of Jenin at 2 a.m., and in response a crowd of 300 Palestinians threw rocks and explosive at the troops, who then responded with live fire. Seven people were being treated for light injuries at the Jenin hospital.
Israeli forces arrested 30 Palestinians in the Jenin raid, which, according to Reuters, brings the number of Palestinians arrested in the week-long search to 280 (200 are believed to be members of Hamas).
Israel has blamed Hamas for the kidnapping, though the terrorist organization hasn’t claimed responsibility for the abductions (they did, however, praise the kidnappings). Israel’s aggressive military response is an attempt both to find the boys—whose disappearance has inspired rallies in New York and strong condemnations from Washington, D.C.–and strike back at Hamas.
Israel has said its West Bank operation is two-fold: to find Gil-Ad Shaer and U.S.-Israeli national Naftali Fraenkel, both aged 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19; and to deal a substantial blow to Hamas, a group dedicated to its destruction.
A statement issued by the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of using the teenagers’ disappearance as “a pretext to impose tough punishment against our people and besiege them” in violation of international humanitarian law.