The bodies of three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped in the West Bank earlier this month have been found north-west of the city of Hebron, the Israeli Defense Forces confirmed today.
"Following extensive searches in order to retrieve the three abducted teens ... three bodies were discovered in the area north-west to Hebron, north of the community of Telem," the IDF said in a statement. "The bodies are currently going through forensic identification. The families of the abducted teens have been notified."
An emergency cabinet meeting has been called for 2:30 p.m. ET, and an announcement could come during or after the meeting, a source told ABC News.
Hamas, the Palestinian militant group accused by Israel of taking the boys, has denied kidnapping the teens, though senior Israeli and Palestinian officials agree that the abductors were likely tied to -- or part of -- Hamas but operating without orders from the organization's leadership.
One of the teens, 16-year-old Naftali Frenkel, had dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship and his family is from Brooklyn, N.Y. The two others were Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach.
Israeli forces have conducted raids in the West Bank in the search for the teens and their kidnappers since they were abducted on June 12. Since the search started, more than 240 Palestinians have been arrested in the operation dubbed "Brother's Keeper," the army said.
Knesset sessions for tonight have been cancelled, according to Israeli media reports.
There are reports that Israeli soldiers have already been deployed in Hebron, and Israeli TV stations earlier showed pictures of soldiers searching through rubble and military vehicles moving through the village of Halhul, just north of Hebron.
At the end of a White House press briefing, Press Secretary Josh Earnest was asked about the report of the deaths, news of which broke in the middle of the briefing.
“We obviously condemn in the strongest possible term, violence that takes the lives of innocent civilians,” he said. “But I don’t want to react any further without having a chance to take a look at that report myself.”
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