Reports yesterday that Israel surrounded a house in Hebron briefly raised hopes that the IDF had found Gil-ad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach who were kidnapped Thursday night as they made their way home from Yeshiva for the Sabbath. Israel reported that two Hamas operatives were arrested at the house but that neither the kidnappers nor their victims were there.

It’s been reported that one of the students called the police to say that he’d been kidnapped on Thursday night.

Israel has arrested at least 80 senior members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Prime Minister Netanyahu called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and told him that “he expected his assistance in securing the return of the three kidnapped teenagers, and that the Hamas-Fatah pact is bad for Israel, bad for the Palestinians and bad for the region.” Abbas condemned the kidnapping as well as Israel’s attempts to find the students. (He did not offer any praise for Israel’s medical system. Abbas’s wife was treated in an Israeli hospital on Friday.)

If Abbas was less than remorseful he may have been encouraged by the European Union, which has been silent about the kidnappings, despite praising the Fatah-Hamas unity government. However Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the kidnappings as a “despicable, terrorist act.”

Israel has called up reserves and move Iron Dome batteries to the south.

A Fatah linked terror group, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed to be holding the teens, but not in Hebron where the IDF has focused its search. The group sent a message:

“We won’t release the three children, except in return for thousands of prisoners,” the statement read, according to a translation posted online by the Israeli 0404 news outlet.

There are doubts about the veracity of the claim. Two other unverified claims of responsibility have been made.

Israel Hayom reported on how the three families are coping with the uncertainty about the well being of their sons and brothers. Shmuel Shai Cohen, the grandfather of Gil-ad Shaer said, “Nothing is harder than not knowing.”

The IDF released a video about their efforts to find the three.

[Photo: TwitterPic from IDF ]

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