Israeli forces search for missing West Bank students

Israeli troops in Hebron (Photo: Wiki Commons)

Israeli troops in Hebron (Photo: Wiki Commons)

The IDF has confirmed it is searching for three Jewish teenagers who have disappeared in the area surrounding Hebron in the West Bank.

It is believed the yeshivah students may have been kidnapped by a Palestinian group while hitchhiking.

An army spokesman said: "The three teenagers were last seen last night in an area of Gush Etzion. Forces are conducting a widespread operation in order to locate them."

The IDF was earlier thought to have searched homes south-west of the city on Friday after the three disappeared.

Earlier the Palestinian Ma'an news agency claimed a military reconnaissance plane was flying over the area and checkpoints had been erected.

Israeli military sources later acknowledged the reported search, after media in the country were earlier banned from publishing any details.

It is thought an Israeli car was earlier found on fire and that the incident could be linked to the disappearance.

Ma'an said eyewitnesses had reported Israeli forces searching the car, removing items and moving local Palestinians away from the area.

The teenagers are thought to have initially contacted the IDF by phone, but the line of communication was later lost.

Last updated: 4:30pm, June 13 2014