Israel Vows Resolute Action After Abducted Teenagers Found Dead
Israel has vowed retribution against Hamas, the militant Palestinian group it accuses of the kidnap and murder of three teenagers.The bodies of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach were found on Monday evening, after they had been missing for more than a fortnight.
Israel PM Benyamin Netanyahu said: “Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay.” Hamas denies any involvement.
Israel launched more than 30 air strikes on the Gaza Strip overnight.
The strikes came in reaction to Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel, the Israeli military said.
Israeli troops flooded into the Palestinian village of Halhul and the homes of two Hamas men, Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aishah, named by Israel as prime suspects, have been blown up.
Hamas says Israel is using a “story” to justify a “war” on Palestinians.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that if Israeli forces “carry out an escalation or a war, they will open the gates of hell on themselves”.
‘Action not words’
The deaths of the students, who were last seen at a junction near Hebron in the West Bank as they hitchhiked home, has sparked international condemnation.
Their bodies were found in a pit near Halhul.
Israeli security forces have set up blockades and closed down whole areas around the town, which is just a few kilometres from where the teenagers were last seen.
Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett wrote on Facebook: “Murderers of children and those who direct them cannot be forgiven. Now is a time for actions, not words.”
The teenagers’ funerals, likely to take place shortly, will be the focus of intense grief and national anger, says the BBC’s Middle East correspondent Kevin Connolly.
Late on Monday, rockets were launched from Gaza into south Israel. Israel then began air strikes against militant sites in the Gaza Strip.
No serious casualties were reported, although Hareetz, citing Palestinian reports, said four people were lightly wounded by shrapnel.
A BBC reporter in Gaza says that Hamas denies carrying out the rocket attacks.
‘We wanted peace’
Israel’s Deputy Defence Minister, Dan Danon, told the BBC that Hamas “must pay a price”.
“We have to say it very clear if you kill innocent children on the way back from school, you cannot continue to work with us as usual,” he said.
Hamas has denied being behind the teenagers’ abductions or deaths.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accused Israel of “trying to take advantage” of the situation “to open war against our people”. He warned that Israel would “pay a price” for any “aggression”.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership to discuss the teenagers’ deaths.
His spokesman Abdallah Abdallah expressed “regret” for the deaths. “We wanted peace to be created in this part of the world so no mother or no family will be bereaved for the loss of their beloved ones, Palestinian or Israeli.”
The disappearance of the teenagers on 12 June sparked a huge search operation in Palestinian towns and cities across the West Bank.
More than 400 Palestinians were arrested, while five were killed in fighting with Israeli troops.
Mr Netanyahu has said the incident is a consequence of “the partnership” between Hamas and the Fatah movement of Mr Abbas.
The two signed a reconciliation deal in April after years of division and formed a unity government earlier this month.