Murdered teens to be buried side-by-side, as search continues for killers

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The three kidnapped teens who were found murdered near Hebron will be buried side-by-side.

Separate funerals are set for Tuesday afternoon for Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach in each of the teens’ home communities, after which they will be buried in the Modiin cemetery in central Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak at the burial of the three teens.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon on Tuesday morning vowed to capture the kidnappers. “We see Hamas as responsible for the kidnapping and the murder, and we will know how to settle the score with it. We will continue to pursue the murderers of the teens and we shall not rest or be still until we lay hands on them. And so it will be,” Yaalon said in a statement.

He said that throughout the 19-day search for the teens the families coped in a way that aroused admiration and displayed a fortitude in the face of the missing boys, affording the IDF, the Shin Bet, and the Israel Police the strength to continue on with the search until its bitter end.”

Israel’s Shin Bet security service and the Israel Defense Forces on Thursday identified two West Bank Palestinian men affiliated with the terrorist group Hamas, Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasme, as the alleged kidnappers. The suspects, who live in Hebron, have been missing since the kidnapping.

Israeli troops raided the homes of the two suspects on Monday night, Part of Abu-Eisha’s home was demolished, reportedly out of fear that he was in the house and would open fire on the soldiers.

Three Palestinians were arrested on Monday night during the continuing search for the kidnappers, who security services reportedly fear have left the Hebron area and are in hiding elsewhere.

The IDF also confirmed that a Palestinian in Jenin was killed by Israeli soldiers after he threw a grenade at them as they searched the refugee camp.

Israel’s Security Cabinet adjourned a meeting late Monday night on a response to the killings with no decisions made, due to disagreements among the ministers as to the strength of the response. The Cabinet is set to reconvene following the funerals.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the news of the discovery of the dead teens “devastating.”

“We all had so much hope that this story would not end this way. As a father, there are no words to express such a horrific loss that shakes all people of conscience. We pray for these three boys and their families, and together we grieve with all the people of Israel. Knowing that Naftali was also an American citizen makes this an especially heavy blow not just to Israel, but to the United States,” Kerry said in a statement.

Kerry condemned “this despicable terrorist act,” saying the “killing of innocent youths is an outrage beyond any understanding or rationale, and the perpetrators must be brought to justice. This is a time for all to work towards that goal without destabilizing the situation.