JERUSALEM – A senior Hamas leader says the group was behind the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank in June — the first time anyone from the Islamic militant group has said it was behind an attack that helped spark the current war in the Gaza Strip.
Salah Arouri told a conference in Turkey on Wednesday that Hamas carried out the kidnapping with the broader goal of sparking a new Palestinian uprising. "It was an operation by your brothers from the al-Qassam Brigades," he said, referring to Hamas' military wing.
Hamas has repeatedly praised the kidnappings, but Arouri, the group's exiled West Bank leader, is the first member to claim responsibility.
The kidnapping sparked an Israeli crackdown and chain of events culminating in the current war.