TEL AVIV - Israeli soldiers were searching the West Bank on Friday after three Jewish teens — one of them an American citizen — vanished in a possible kidnapping.
An Israel police spokesman said one of the teens called authorities to say they had been abducted but did not provide further details, The Associated Press reported. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Israel Defense Forces told NBC News that they were building roadblocks on the road from Israel to Gaza with the idea that's where the teens might be taken if they were abducted.
“We are concentrating all of our intelligence efforts on trying to track down the missing individuals," IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz said in a statement.
The three youths attended a religious school. They were last seen late Thursday near the Jewish settlement of Gush Etzion, which is north of Hebron in the disputed West Bank.
One has U.S. citizenship, NBC News has learned.
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Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the situation, according to a senior State Department official.
"We've seen the reports and are very concerned for their well-being," the official said.
"We are working with the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to try to ensure that the situation is resolved quickly and that the three teenagers are safely reunited with their families," the official added. "We are giving this security cooperation our full encouragement."
Netanyahu's office said he told Kerry that the Palestinian Authority must be held responsible for the safety of the missing trio.
Adnan al-Dmairi, a spokesman for Palestinian security services in the West Bank, told Reuters the authority had "no knowledge" about the teens' disappearance.
"Three settlers are missing. Why is this the fault of the Palestinian Authority? We have nothing to do with this issue. If a natural disaster hits Israel, would we be responsible? This is mad and unacceptable,'' he said.
Israel Chief Rabbi David Lau said he spoke with family members of the missing students and "heard from them words of hope and prayer."
"I told them that the Israel people are embracing them and this fact is strengthening them. I'm praying that they receive good news over the course of the Sabbath," Lau said.
HAZEM BADER / AFP - Getty Images
Israeli soldiers secure the area around a burnt car reportedly connected to the disappearance of three Israeli teen settlers in the West Bank town of Hebron.
NBC News' Catherine Chomiak contributed to this report.
First published June 13 2014, 8:12 AM