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West Bank Kidnappings

West Bank Clashes Erupt as Israel Hunts for Missing Teens

TEL AVIV, Israel - Israeli forces looking for an American and two other teens who were abducted in the occupied West Bank clashed with hundreds of Palestinians overnight near where they were last seen.

Hospital officials told Reuters early Thursday that three Palestinians suffered bullet wounds in violence in Jenin, a city that saw serious fighting during a Palestinian uprising about ten years ago.

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Palestinians opened fire on Israeli soldiers, the military said in a statement.

"Forces responded with live fire, identifying hits. In addition, [improvised explosive devices] and rocks were hurled at forces exiting Nablus. The forces detained several rioters," the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

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Some 280 Palestinians have been detained since Gilad Shaar, 19, Eyal Yifrach, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, an American citizen who was born in Israel, disappeared last Thursday in the West Bank. Israel said that 200 of them were operatives of Hamas, the militant group that in April signed a unity agreement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Israel blames Hamas for the teens' disappearances.

The IDF said it had also searched about 100 locations and carried out 10 operations against what it described as the “civilian lifeline used by Hamas to recruit, disseminate information and enable cash flow” overnight.

Image: Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel
Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and American citizen Naftali Fraenkel in images provided by the Israeli Defense Forces. The three teenagers are believed to have been kidnapped. Israeli Defense Forces

Hamas has not claimed responsibility for the disappearances.

Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador Daniel Shapiro visited Fraenkel's home and pledged Obama administration's support in finding the teens.

"We are encouraging continuing cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian security services," he said. "We’ve offered our full assistance, anything that the United States can do, any information that we can share or knowledge that we can offer to assist in the search.”

Reuters and F. Brinley Bruton of NBC News contributed to this report.