The International Committee of the Red Cross called Sunday night for the immediate, unconditional release of the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers.
“We are very concerned by the fate of the teenagers. International humanitarian law prohibits abduction as well as the taking of hostages,” said Robert Mardini, head of ICRC operations in the Middle East, according to a statement released by the organization. “They must be treated humanely, and their lives and dignity protected and respected.”
The ICRC also offered to serve as an intermediary between the two sides to ensure the release of the boys.
The statement came as security forces further intensified an ongoing search for the three missing teens – Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel – who were kidnapped on Thursday night.
One of the boys, at 10:25 p.m., was able to make a phone call to the local version of 911, but his whispered plea, Channel 2 reported, was discarded as a prank.
The army has placed the southern section of the West Bank under curfew and flooded the region with troops.
Thus far, over 100 Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad officials and activists have been apprehended, including one of Hamas’ founders, Hassan Yousef, and several former government officials.
Some 30,000 Israelis prayed at the Western Wall Sunday night for the boys’ safe release.
— ICRC in Israel & OT (@ICRC_ilot) June 15, 2014
On Sunday night, IDF troops converged on a house in Hebron and arrested two men wanted in connection with the kidnapping.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, held the Palestinian Authority responsible for the kidnappings.
“The same Palestinian Authority, which some call moderate, recently cut a deal with Hamas, a terror organization that has emblazoned on its flag the murder of Jews, wherever they may be, and whose aspirations are to seize control of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank], and it bears the responsibility for the kidnappings of the three teens over the weekend,” he said.
Ya’alon termed the kidnappings “additional testimony to the cruelty and seething hatred that guides the terror groups in our region,” and said that the army and the other branches of the defense establishment were making “enormous efforts to find the three.”
Mitch Ginsburg contributed to this report.