Kerry ‘strongly condemns’ kidnappings, calls Hamas ‘terrorist’ group

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement that he “strongly condemns” the kidnapping of three Israeli teens and reiterated that Hamas is a “terrorist organization.”

In a statement released Sunday afternoon, more than 48 hours after the teens’ abduction, Kerry said that Washington officials “continue to offer our full support for Israel in its search for the missing teens, and we have encouraged full cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian security services.” He called for the teens “immediate release,” and said that the U.S. hopes for “their quick and safe return home.”


Kerry said the U.S. continues to “seek details on the parties responsible for this despicable terrorist act, although many indications point to Hamas’ involvement.”

“We reiterate our position that Hamas is a terrorist organization known for its attacks on innocent civilians and which has used kidnapping in the past,” Kerry said.

The three Israeli teens, including one dual Israeli-American citizen, have been missing since Thursday night. They were last seen trying to get rides home from a yeshiva high school in Gush Etzion, a bloc of settlements located south of Jerusalem.

The missing teens were identified Saturday as Gilad Shaar, 16, from Talmon; Eyal Yifrach, 19, from Elad; and Naftali Frenkel, 16, from Nof Ayalon, who is also an American citizen.

In a statement released Sunday afternoon, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that: “These teenagers were kidnapped and the kidnapping was carried out by Hamas members. Hamas denials do not change this fact. And this attack should surprise no one because Hamas makes no secret of its agenda. Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel and to carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians – including children.”

Netanyahu said that “Israel holds the Palestinian Authority and President Abbas responsible for any attacks against Israel that emanate from Palestinian-controlled territory. The Palestinian claim that the Palestinian Authority cannot be held responsible for an attack that took place in an area under Israeli security control is patently absurd.

Netanyahu said that Israel will “act in all ways under its province, in all ways under our control, to bring home the three kidnapped teenagers.”

“We will do whatever needs to be done to protect our people, our citizens, our children and our teenagers from the scourge of terrorism,” he concluded.