Israel has named two men as suspects in the alleged kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank.
Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha, associated with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, served time in an Israeli prison for "terrorist activity" and were from the Hebron area, according to the Shin Bet security service.
The two were considered suspects immediately after the abduction and therefore the Shin Bet and the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) "have pursued the men, first and foremost in order to locate the kidnapped teens". Both were believed to be missing on the day of the kidnapping and their homes were raided after the abduction. Many of their relatives were arrested.
The wives of the two men, including Qawasmeh's who is eight months pregnant, were among those arrested and detained briefly. Amer Abu Aisha's father said his son was not involved.
Qawasmeh, 29, has been arrested five times, and confessed during interrogation by Shin Beth to belonging to the military wing of Hamas. He was released from prison in March 2012.
Abu Aisha, 32, was arrested twice, in 2005 and 2007, the first time in administrative detention. His brother was killed in 2005 when he tried to throw an explosive at Israeli soldiers.
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal repeated that "we do not have information about what happened". Hamas has denied any involvement in the disappearance of the students -- Gil-Ad Shaer and US-Israeli national Naftali Fraenkel, both aged 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19.
Since the trio went missing, Israel has conducted large-scale operations arresting 410 people, searching 1,350 sites and launching a crackdown on Hamas. Since the manhunt began, a total of six Palestinians have been killed in clashes with the Israeli forces.
Israel says their operation is aimed at finding the teenagers and dealing a blow against Hamas, which now forms part of the unity government led by President Mahmoud Abbas.
But Israeli human rights organisations accused Israel of "collective punishment" of Palestinians.
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