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Missing Israeli teens found dead near Hebron; Netanyahu: ‘Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay’

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Israeli military in Halhul on Monday. (Photo: Jim Hollander/European Pressphoto Agency)
Israeli military in Halhul on Monday. (Photo: Jim Hollander/European Pressphoto Agency)

The bodies of three missing Israeli teens – Gil-Ad Shaer,16, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19 – were found today in a West Bank field near the village of Halhul, not far from where they went missing on June 12. Halhul is close to the city of Hebron where the search effort and military presence has been intense over the past few weeks. 

The Israeli government is meeting in an emergency cabinet meeting tonight to discuss an official response. Initial reports have indicated that those responsible for the deaths may have been connected to Hamas, but that the killing was not an official operation (interesting background here). Hamas issued another statement denying responsibility for the deaths (from Haaretz):

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri: “Only the Israeli version of the events has been published. Israel is attempting to make way for aggression against us, against Hamas. We reject all Israeli allegations and threats against us. We are already used to it and will know how to defend ourselves. No Palestinian group, Hamas or any other group, has taken responsibility for the action, and thus the Israeli version can’t be trusted.”

Still, Israeli politicians have already increased calls to use the teens’ death as a justification for “a war on Hamas.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement saying, “Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay.”

Here is the full Netanyahu statement off the Prime Minister of Israel’s Facebook page:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks this evening at the start of the Security Cabinet meeting:

“With heavy grief, this evening we found three bodies. All signs indicate that they are the bodies of our three abducted youths – Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frankel.

They were abducted and murdered in cold blood by human animals. On behalf of the entire Jewish People, I would like to tell the dear families – the mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, and brothers and sisters – we are deeply saddened, the entire nation weeps with you. We will give the boys a proper burial. ‘Vengeance for the blood of a small child, Satan has not yet created.’; neither has vengeance for the blood of three pure youths, who were on their way home to meet their parents, who will not see them anymore. Hamas is responsible – and Hamas will pay. May the memories of the three boys be blessed.”

In addition, the family homes of alleged suspects Marwan Quasma and Amar Abu Eisha have already been surrounded and are being threatened with demolition in retribution. Michael Omer Man reports for +972:

The Israeli army was surrounding the homes of two of the suspected kidnappers within minutes of the announcement, with troops reportedly preparing to demolish the houses. In recent days, the Israeli government announced a return to its policy of punitive home demolitions.

Our friend and correspondent Kate offers this statement (in the comment section), and reporting from al Monitor: “So can you say that it was ‘Hamas’, meaning the leadership, if it was actually done by this clan? Never mind, I’m sure the innocent will pay. I am scared for Gazans and the people of Halhul.” Link to al-monitor.com

Accused kidnappers are rogue Hamas branch – by Shlomi Eldar

“On June 26, the Shin Bet allowed the release of the names of the two men suspected of orchestrating the kidnapping of the three yeshiva (religious high school) students in the Etzion settlement bloc. The suspects are Marwan Qawasmeh and Amar Abu Aisha.
According to Palestinian sources, Palestinian security forces had already reported to Israel that these two suspects had disappeared from Hebron within 24 hours of the abduction. That was the first clue in the investigation and the reason why Israel pointed an accusatory finger at the Hamas infrastructure in Hebron. But while Israel continues to accuse the Hamas movement and its leadership of being responsible for the abduction, Palestinian security forces attribute the abduction to the Qawasmeh clan of Hebron specifically. Though the clan is known for identifying with Hamas, it also has a well-earned reputation as troublemakers. Not only does it tend to ignore the movement’s leaders. It even acts counter to the policies being advocated by the movement.
That is why officials in the Palestinian Authority (PA) were shocked by the timing of the three boys’ abduction, just two weeks after the establishment of a Palestinian unity government. After all, the very creation of this new coalition came with the assumption that the Hamas leadership had come to terms with reality and moderated their positions.
Enter the Qawasmeh clan. The total number of people belonging to the clan is estimated at about 10,000, making it one of the three largest clans in the Mount Hebron region. At least 15 members of the family were killed during the second intifada, nine of them while committing suicide attacks against Israel.
(…)
Each time Hamas had reached an understanding with Israel about a cease-fire or tahadiyeh (period of calm), at least one member of the family has been responsible for planning or initiating a suicide attack, and any understandings with Israel, achieved after considerable effort, were suddenly laid waste. If there is a single family throughout the PA territories whose actions can be blamed for Israel’s assassination of the political leadership of Hamas, it is the Qawasmeh family of Hebron.

American officials have begun conveying expressions of sympathy. UN Ambassador Samantha Power calls the news “devastating:”

Join POTUS in sending condolences to families of 3 murdered Israeli teens, including 1 who was American. Devastating.

That statement from the President:

President's statement
President’s statement

Coverage of the discovery has included confirmation of something Mondoweiss first reported June 23 – Israeli officials have long suspected the missing teens were already dead. Sheera Frenkel reports for BuzzFeed:

Israeli officials have imposed a gag order on many details of the search for the teens. That gag order initially included a phone call made from one of the teens to police, as well as evidence found in a burnt-out car in the Hebron area.

BuzzFeed spoke to an Israeli official involved in the case, who confirmed that during the police call a gunshot can clearly be heard. The car, he added, had clear evidence of foul play. Over the last week. Israeli soldiers could be seen digging through rocks and dredging wells in Hebron in the search for the teens.

“We have been operating, for some time now, with evidence that these boys were killed,” he said. “It is with a heavy heart that we realized we were looking for bodies.”

The New York Times also quotes a senior Israeli official saying, “The three appeared to have been shot to death, likely ‘very close to the kidnap’ time.”

Thanks to Annie Robbins for help on this post. 

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As I asked Oleg earlier, so, did the Israelis identify who murdered the boys on Nakba day yet??? (I guess it goes without saying that the ZIonists don’t intend to release any actual evidence regarding the three missing males, to demonstrate that all the people who they’re about to murder and whos lives they’re about to destroy were responsible for anything, other than the most unforgivable of sins, of course: being non-Jews…)

So the boys were probably killed within hours of the ‘kidnapping’ and were found by ‘civilian volunteers’ ten minutes away from where they went missing? What does this say for the competence of Israel’s much vaunted intelligence services? But I’m really scared for people across Palestine tonight. Of course, no evidence has been provided that Hamas were responsible for the deaths, but when it comes to Palestinians, no evidence is ever needed. I fear that… Read more »

I am not sure if this theory has already been floated, but is it possible that the three Israeli teenagers have been killed by misguided individuals as retribution for the two teenagers shot dead on Nakba day? Surely, the mainstream media are not making this connection that would, somehow, put things in perspective.

What a pathetic state israel is, a state that love terrorism and racism.

How many palestinians will they murder this time? 10? 100? 10000?

The statements from the Israeli officials sound exactly like Richard Landes’ formulation about an “honor and shame” culture, and its need for revenge. Only problem is he got the players backwards.