Three Israeli teens missing in West Bank: Army

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Three Israeli teenagers have gone missing near a West Bank settlement, the army said on Friday, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he held the Palestinian leadership responsible for their safety.

"The IDF (Israeli military) confirms three teenagers are currently missing," an army statement said.

"The individuals were last seen late last night in the area of Gush Etzion," a Jewish settlement southwest of Bethlehem in the southern West Bank, it said, adding that security forces were trying to find them.

The army gave no further details about the disappearance.

Netanyahu's office held the Palestinian leadership responsible for the disappearance in the occupied Palestinian territory.

"Israel holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for the well being of the 3 missing Israeli teens," Netanyahu's spokesman Ofir Gendelman wrote on Twitter.

Israeli media speculated the three may have been kidnapped by Palestinians. One has US citizenship, and the American embassy has been informed, public radio said.

Military radio said they were all students at a Jewish seminary or yeshiva, and that they went missing late Thursday near a bus stop.

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, armed branch of the Islamist Hamas movement ruling the Gaza Strip, issued a statement warning that "the occupier will never have security", but without referring specifically to the missing three.

Public radio said Netanyahu had been in touch with their families to reassure them that "everything" was being done to locate them.