By Kyle Balluck - 06/15/14 12:48 PM EDT
Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday said the U.S. strongly condemns the kidnapping of three Israeli teens, who went missing while hiking in the West Bank, and called for their release.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with their families,” Kerry said in a statement. “We hope for their quick and safe return home. We 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. We understand that cooperation is ongoing.”
“As we gather this information, 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.”
"These teenagers were kidnapped and the kidnapping was carried out by Hamas members," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters on Sunday, according to Reuters.
The news service also reported that a Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip stopped short of a clear denial or confirmation that it was involved in the disappearance of the teens.