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 teenagers were last seen last night in area of Gush Etzion. Forces are conducting a widespread operation in order to locate them
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.
> Israel holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for the well-being of the three missing teenagers.
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.
NBC News' Catherine Chomiak contributed to this report.