Washington: The United States today called on both Israel and the Palestinians to show restraint as Israelis tightened their grip on the West Bank hunting for three kidnapped teenagers.
"We recognize this is an incredibly sensitive and difficult circumstance on the ground, and we feel all sides should exercise restraint," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
Israeli troops have pressed their biggest arrest operation in years, imposing a tight lockdown on huge swathes of the West Bank in the hunt for the three boys kidnapped six days ago. So far, there has been no claim of responsibility for the teens` disappearance.
Since the Israeli searches began early Friday, troops have arrested 240 Palestinians, searched more than 800 locations and raided 10 Hamas-run institutions, the army said. Gilad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel, both 16, and 19-year-old Eyal Ifrach, went missing late Thursday from a popular hitchhiking spot near Gush Etzion settlement bloc in the southern West Bank.
Psaki confirmed Wednesday that Frenkel is also a US citizen and said US officials had been in touch with his family. "We urge both sides to exercise restraint and avoid the types of steps that could destabilize the situation," she warned.
US officials have been in touch with both Israelis and Palestinians since the kidnappings. "We know this is a difficult time, obviously, on the ground,` she said, adding Washington was urging continued security cooperation between the two sides.