JERUSALEM/NEW YORK – News that the three Israeli teenagers kidnapped by terrorists on 12 June 2014 from a hitchhiking point in Gush Etzion near the West Bank city of Hebron were murdered was met with shock and outrage by the leaders of the World Jewish Congress (WJC). WJC President Ronald S. Lauder said the thoughts of the entire international Jewish community were with the families of Naphtali Fraenkel, Gilad Sha’ar and Eyal Yifrach. The bodies of the three were discovered on Monday near Hebron.
The three bodies were found by security forces in a field northwest of Hebron on Monday afternoon. Police forensics officers were called to the scene to confirm the identities of the bodies. The discovery came after Israel's inland security service Shin Bet focused its efforts in the area over the past two days during searches for the three abducted Israeli teens.
Israeli authorities have evidence that the abduction was done by members of the Islamist Hamas movement, which runs the Gaza Strip and recently entered into agreement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah group.
“We are beyond shocked, outraged and heartbroken by these despicable murders. Once again, Hamas has revealed its true colors: This group blatantly disregards human life, and it doesn’t even refrain from hijacking innocent teenagers. Those who committed this heinous crime must be hunted down and brought to justice.
"Clearly, Hamas is a terrorist organization, and it must be dismantled, and it is the responsibility of Mahmoud Abbas to remove all Hamas-linked officials from his government immediately and fight terrorism vigorously and urgently. Abu Mazen must show leadership now,” Lauder declared.
He also urged the international community, and in particular the United States and the European Union, to halt all financial support for the Palestinian Authority until Hamas is excluded from all government bodies. “This murder must spur the world into action, and the fight against fanatic, extremist groups such as Hamas must be stepped up urgently,” said the WJC president.
Slain to be laid to rest together
The three students will be laid to rest on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. local time at the Modiin cemetery. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be among the speakers. Though all three will be buried side-by-side in the same cemetery at the same time, they will have separate funerals, the families said, in their respective communities to eulogize the boys, according to the 'Times of Israel'.
Following the announcement of the discovery of the bodies, Netanyahu made some brief remarks. “They were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by animals,” he said, adding: “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. We will bring the boys to be buried according to Jewish rites. Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay."