Palestine speaker held as Israel expands West Bank hunt for missing teens

The speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council has been arrested as part of the hunt for three missing Israeli teenagers. The detention of Hamas member Aziz Dweik was among 40 arrests overnight in connection with the disappearance of 16-year-olds Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar, and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrach, after they left a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. The Israel Defence Force (IDF) said in a statement that “Hamas leadership and operatives” were among those who have been arrested.

IDF efforts are focused on enabling operational capabilities, enhancing intelligence and influencing those that participated, are involved or have knowledge of the whereabouts of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach.

Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner of the Israel Defence Force

Israel has blamed Hamas for what it suspects are kidnappings and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday threatened “serious consequences” if they were not found safe. The U.S. has also pointed the finger at Hamas over the disappearance of the group. One of the three youngsters, Naftali Frenkel, is a U.S. passport holder. Hamas, an Islamist group that runs the government in Gaza, agreed to form a unity government earlier this month with U.S.-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas said he “condemned” the kidnappings and the “series of Israeli violations,” such as the raids and arrests.