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Israel finds bodies of three missing teens in West Bank

Jewish Journal, Reuters and JTA

June 30, 2014 | 10:00 am

<em>An Israeli woman holds a sign with images of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers in Tel Aviv on June 29. Photo by Baz Ratner/Reuters</em>

An Israeli woman holds a sign with images of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers in Tel Aviv on June 29. Photo by Baz Ratner/Reuters

[June 30 at 5:14 p.m.] Aunt of murdered Israeli teen mourns: ‘His sisters don’t have a brother anymore’


 

[June 30 at 5:07 p.m.] New Yorkers hold solidarity vigil for slain Israeli teenagers

Several hundred people waving Israeli flags and expressing grief and solidarity held a vigil in New York on Monday after the bodies of three missing Israeli teenagers were found in the West Bank. Read more.


 

[June 30 at 2:08 p.m.] Israelis light candles in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on June 30 as they mourn the deaths of three teenager. Photos by Nir Elias/Reuters


 

[June 30 at 1:15 p.m.] President Barack Obama on the deaths of Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar:

On behalf of the American people I extend my deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel – who held Israeli and American citizenship. As a father, I cannot imagine the indescribable pain that the parents of these teenage boys are experiencing. Read the rest of his statement here.

Vatican calls Israeli teenagers deaths hideous, threat to peace

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. Read more here.


 

[June 30 at 12:54 p.m.] A collection of Jewish community responses to death of kidnapped Israeli teens.


 

[June 30 at 12:30 p.m.] USCJ leaders express grief and outrage at murder of teen boys


 

[June 30 at 12:04 p.m.] Reuters – Israelis gather in the town of Elad on June 30, outside the home of Eyal Yifrah, one of three teenagers who was abducted. Photo by Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters

 


 

[June 30 at 11:50 a.m.] Reuters – Israeli forces found the bodies of three missing teenagers in the West Bank on Monday 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.

"There can be no forgiveness for the killers of children and those who sent them. Now is the time to act," Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement.

The kidnapping on June 12 of the three Jewish seminary students near a settlement in the West Bank appalled Israelis who rallied behind the teens' families.

Netanyahu seized on the abduction to demand Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas abrogate a reconciliation deal he reached with Hamas, his long-time rival, in April that led to a unity Palestinian government on June 2.

The bodies of Gil-Ad Shaer and U.S.-Israeli national Naftali Fraenkel, both 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, were found in a field near Hebron, a militant stronghold and the hometown of two Hamas members identified by Israel as the kidnappers and still at large, security officials said.

The teens had apparently been shot soon after having been abducted while hitchhiking, the officials said.

"They were under a pile of rocks, in an open field," said Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, a military spokesman.


An Israeli soldier stands guard near the West Bank city of Hebron on June 30. Photo by Mussa Qawasma/Reuters

Israeli media said the break in the case came after the relatives of the alleged abductors were interrogated. A large number of troops gathered at the spot - in the general area where the teenagers disappeared - to recover the bodies.

In tandem with the search over the past 18 days, Israeli forces have raided Palestinian towns and villages, detaining Hamas activists and closing the group's institutions.

Abbas condemned the abduction and pledged the cooperation of his security forces, drawing criticism from Hamas and undercutting his popularity among Palestinians angered by what they saw as his collusion with Israel.

The United States, while condemning the kidnapping, has urged Israel to pursue a measured response.

Hamas, which has maintained security control of the Gaza Strip since the unity deal, is shunned by the West over its refusal to renounce violence. The group has called for Israel's destruction, although various officials have at times indicated a willingness to negotiate a long-term ceasefire.

Additional reporting by Ori Lewis; Editing by Robin Pomeroy


 

[June 30 at 11:17 a.m.] Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon: ‘We will eradicate Hamas’

Jewish Federations express grief and outrage over deaths of kidnapped students in Israel


 

[June 30 at 11:05 a.m.] Israeli press conference – The bodies of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrah were found this evening at near the Palestinian town Halhul, north of Hebron, after a wide search conducted by Israel’s security forces. At 21:30, Israel time, the state cabinet will commence a special meeting.

The three bodies were found around 18:00, in a hole dug by their abductors. It appears as if the three boys were shot and killed shortly after their abduction. According to current estimations, the kidnappers planned to kill them and then negotiate for the bodies later.


 

[June 30 at 11 a.m.] Embassy of Israel – With great sadness we must announce the bodies of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali have been found near Hebron. Our thoughts are with their families.

IDF – During the search for Eyal Yifach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel, the IDF discoved 3 bodies near Hebron


 

[June 30 at 10:47 a.m.] Reuters – Israeli security forces on Monday found the bodies of three teenagers who went missing in the West Bank earlier this month and confirmed them as the Israeli seminary students sought since June 12, Israeli media said.

Al Jazeera television, quoting Israeli sources, also reported that the bodies had been found and said the inner Israeli cabinet was to hold an emergency meeting later in the evening.

Israel has accused the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which has its power base in the Gaza Strip, of being behind the abduction of the teenagers. Hamas has neither confirmed nor denied involvement.

Israel sent large forces to areas of the West Bank to look for Gil-Ad Shaer and U.S.-Israeli national Naftali Fraenkel, both 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19. The three went missing near a settlement in the West Bank.

Israeli forces mounted, and have since sharply scaled back, a sweep through Palestinian towns and villages, mainly in and around the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Dozens of Hamas members have been detained.

Since the start of the Israeli operation, some 40 rockets have been fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip, the military said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to abandon a reconciliation pact he sealed with Hamas in April, a deal that led to the creation on June 2 of a Palestinian unity government of technocrats.

Hamas has called for Israel's destruction, although various officials have at times indicated a willingness to negotiate a long-term ceasefire.

(Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)


 

[June 30 at 10:32 a.m.] JTA – Israel’s Security Cabinet is convening an emergency session amid reports that dramatic developments have occurred in the search for three kidnapped Israeli teens.

ABC News on Monday quoted an unnamed source as saying that the bodies of the teens were found north of Hebron.

Al Jazeera also reported that the Israeli military has found the teens’ bodies.


 

[June 30 at 10 a.m.] Jewish Journal – Multiple sources saying abducted Israelis have been found dead. Cabinet to make announcement shortly.

Israel Defense Forces are clashing with Palestinians near Halhul, area of search for abducted teens. 

The Times of Israel is reporting that Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon reports dramatic developments in case of kidnapped teens. IDF troops increase sweeps north of Hebron.

Haaretz: Large Israeli force near Hebron searches for kidnapped teens

More details to follow.

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