Editor’s Note: Israel is not messing around. They are out for revenge for the murder of these boys.
Hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that “Hamas will pay” for the murders of three Israeli teens, Israel’s air force launched strikes on dozens of targets in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The bodies of the youths — including one with U.S. citizenship — were found Monday just north of Hebron in the West Bank, and led to outpourings of grief and rage in the Jewish State.
Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, a 16-year-old with dual Israeli-American citizenship, disappeared on June 12 while hitchhiking home.
The Israeli air force conducted airstrikes early Tuesday morning against 34 targets in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in response to rocket attacks against Israel’s southern communities. It was not immediately clear if the airstrikes, which targeted Hamas and Islamic Jihad assets in the strip and came after more than 20 rockets were fired into southern Israel over the past two days, resulted in any casualties, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Also on Tuesday, a Palestinian who Israel said was a member of Hamas was shot dead when he threw a grenade at forces carrying out an arrest raid in the West Bank. The man was the first casualty since the bodies were found in a shallow grave in an open field in the village of Halhul.
Israel has said two well-known Hamas operatives from Hebron are the primary suspects. The men, Amer Abu Aisheh, 33, a locksmith, and Marwan Qawasmeh, 29, a barber, have not been seen since the teens disappeared, and military officials said the search for them would continue.
Israeli soldiers blew up a door of Abu Aisheh’s home in Hebron early Tuesday, causing damage to the home, but did not destroy the rest of the house, said an Israeli military official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to protocol. He did not elaborate. Flames were seen after the blast.
“(The teens) were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by animals,” Haaretz quoted Netanyahu as saying at a hastily arranged security cabinet meeting on Monday. “In the name of the whole of Israel, I ask to tell the dear families – to the mothers, the fathers, the grandmothers and the grandfathers, the brothers and sisters – our hearts are bleeding, the whole nation is crying with them.”
A Defense official said based on the investigation that the teens were shot soon after they were abducted. He spoke anonymously in line with protocol as the investigation is still ongoing.
The teens are to be laid to rest on Tuesday afternoon.
Large crowds of Israelis went to the homes of the families in the central Israeli towns of Nof Ayalon and Elad, and the West Bank settlement of Talmon, to pay their respects, while supporters lit memorial candles and prayed.
Large gatherings were also held in Tel Aviv’s central Rabin Square, and at the West Bank junction where the youths were abducted, with Israelis singing hymns and songs, praying and lighting candles shaped in the names of the youths or the Jewish Star of David.