Officials are concerned for the lives of the three teens, whom have been identified as Eyal Yifrah, 19, from Elad; Naftali Frenkel, 16, from Nof Ayalon; and Gilad Sha'ar, 16, from Talmon.
And while the IDF search began on Friday, damning claims of have surfaced Saturday night, with sources saying that police in Kiryat Arba knew about the kidnapping for hours before informing the IDF, Walla! News reports.
According to the Israeli daily, the Kiryat Arba police were informed of the kidnapping shortly after the abduction Thursday evening. Police forces eventually set up a checkpoint to make sure that the boys would not leave Hevron, sources said - but did not actually inform the IDF of the kidnapping until several hours later, at nearly 4:00 am Friday.
An investigation shows that Sha'ar and Frenkel left the Kfar Etzion yeshiva at 10:00 pm Thursday, and notified their parents around that time that they would make their way home to Talmon and Nof Ayalon respectively.
Eyewitnesses have stated that a short time later, they saw the two teens standing at the Alon Shvut intersection, trying to find a ride. The third teen, Yifrah, told friends he was waiting for a ride around the same time, at about 9:40.
For political and financial reasons, buses in Judea and Samaria are infrequent, and hitchhiking home has become a way of life for residents across Judea and Samaria and is a widely accepted - and common - practice. Car travel is too expensive for many families, due to both a 150% sales tax on new vehicles in Israel and gas prices topping 7.66 shekel per liter ($6.50 per gallon).
The Walla! report indicates that the first inklings of a problem had been reported to police, or IDF officials, sometime prior to the first police report filed on the abduction at 3:00 am Friday. A command post and checkpoint was established as soon as the police report was made, the source said, but the unit failed to report the incident to the IDF until over an hour later; the Israel Security Agency (ISA, or Shin Bet) was then notified shortly thereafter.
Moreover, according to the report, the Judea-Samaria District Police were only notified of the early-morning call from concerned parents well into Friday morning; only still later was it clarified that the complaint indicated a kidnapping in Gush Etzion.
Criticism has begun to be fired at the police forces for tarrying in the report, as time is crucial in a kidnapping case.
On Saturday evening, the Judea-Samaria District police responded, "There are a lot of details related to the investigation of the kidnapping and so, at the present time, we are not responding, confirming, nor denying any detail of the investigation, which is being conducted via an enormous and centralized effort with the IDF and Shin Bet."