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Palestinian officials fear 'regional crisis' with Israel over kidnappings

The kidnappers of three Israeli teenagers have successfully hidden their tracks, frustrating Israeli and Palestinian efforts to find them.
Israeli soldiers take part in searches for three Israeli teenagers believed to have been abducted by Palestinians near the West Bank City of Hebron June 21, 2014. Israel sent more troops to the occupied West Bank on Saturday to search for three missing teenagers it says were abducted by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.
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The search is still ongoing two weeks after three Israeli teenagers went missing in Hebron, in the southern West Bank, despite the Israeli military conducting a campaign of arrests netting hundreds of Hamas activists and leaders. Since June 13, the Israeli army has searched more than 1,100 homes of Hamas activists and more than 100 caves and caverns.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Palestinian security official told Al-Monitor that the search, being conducted by Israeli intelligence in coordination with Palestinian agencies, has focused on two possibilities. “The settlers may be alive somewhere, and this is the stronger possibility, because the perpetrators may want to conduct an exchange deal. Thus, we are in a race against time to reach the detention place for fear that [the teenagers] might be harmed and to bring them back alive, as ordered by President [Mahmoud] Abbas. … Another possibility is that the settlers were killed during the kidnapping because they resisted the kidnappers or because the kidnappers were logistically unable to hold them for a period of time. But they were likely not killed, because Israel would pay a low price in any upcoming deal if [the hostages are dead].”

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