OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli soldiers searched the West Bank Friday to locate three Israeli teenagers reported missing, the military said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed the Palestinian Authority for their disappearance without elaborating, saying he held the government responsible for their safety. Palestinian authorities could not be immediately reached for comment.
Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz said that the military and intelligence forces were searching for the missing Israelis.
"The main mission is to ensure their return," he said. He refused to offer any other details, saying it would compromise the operation.
A gag order had been imposed over the incident by Israel's Shin Bet intelligence agency Friday morning.
It is the first potentially serious incident since the formation of a Palestinian unity government earlier this month, led by President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party and backed by the Islamic militant group Hamas.
Last year, a Palestinian lured an Israeli soldier to a village in the West Bank and killed him with the intention of trading the body for his jailed brother. And in 2001, a Palestinian woman lured an Israeli teenage boy over the Internet to the West Bank where he was killed by waiting Palestinian gunmen.
The woman, Amna Muna, was released in 2011 along with over a thousand other Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a single Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit, held captive in Gaza by Hamas-allied militants.