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Published: Tuesday July 1, 2014 MYT 4:46:07 AM
Updated: Tuesday July 1, 2014 MYT 4:46:07 AM

Vatican calls Israeli teenagers deaths hideous, threat to peace

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican on Monday condemned the killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank as a "hideous and unacceptable crime" and a obstacle to peace.

In an unusually strong statement, the Vatican spokesman said Pope Francis, who visited Israel and the Palestinian territories in April, was united with the families of the victims who were suffering "unspeakable pain".

"The killing of innocent people is always a hideous and unacceptable crime, a grave obstacle on the path towards peace ...," Father Federico Lombardi said, calling the news of the deaths "terrible and dramatic".

The three missing teenagers were found in the occupied West Bank by Israeli forces after a nearly three-week-long search and a sweep against the Islamist Hamas group that Israel says abducted them.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned his security cabinet for a special session that could decide on stronger military moves against Hamas, which has neither confirmed nor denied the Israeli allegations.

(The story was refiled to fix a misused word in the second paragraph.)

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Larry King)

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