The abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the occupied West Bank in June, which helped fuel the biggest escalation in Palestinian-Israeli tensions in years, was set in motion by Hamas operatives from a local Palestinian clan and was financed with about $60,000, mostly obtained through a relative who worked for a Hamas association in Gaza, according to official Israeli documents released on Thursday.
But the documents, related to an investigation and indictment of the man suspected of leading the kidnappers, provide no evidence that the top leaders of Hamas directed or had prior knowledge of the plot to abduct the three Israeli youths.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and his subordinates asserted as fact that the kidnapping and killing of the three youths was orchestrated by Hamas, which Israel regards as a terrorist group committed to its destruction. He responded by ordering a severe crackdown on Hamas suspects and institutions in the West Bank.
Though the documents released on Thursday do not necessarily undercut the Israeli government’s assertions, they present a more nuanced picture.
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