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Violent Reprisals Begin After Israel Finds Bodies of Three Missing Teens

Three teenage Israelis missing since June 12 were discovered dead yesterday, sparking more violence across Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.
July 1, 2014, 5:45pm
Photo by Kelly Lynn

Israel's retribution on the occupied territories following the discovery yesterday of the bodies of three missing Israeli teens began almost immediately.

Last night, Yusef Abu Zaga, 16, was killed by live fire in clashes with the Israeli military after soldiers entered the West Bank city of Jenin. Three other Palestinians were arrested in the raid.

The Israeli military also stepped up its aerial bombing of the Gaza Strip Monday night. According to the Israeli military, airstrikes hit 34 targets overnight. Three Palestinians, including an infant, were injured.


Israel says the strikes are in response to homemade rockets that Hamas has launched into southern Israel in recent days. On Monday, militants reportedly shot 14 rockets into southern Israel, causing no injuries. The aerial bombing by Israeli forces commenced soon after the teens disappeared June 12.

In response to the 18 rockets fired at Israel since Sunday night, the — IDF (@IDFSpokesperson)July 1, 2014

Israeli air strikes hit Gaza Monday night.

On Friday, two Palestinians in Gaza were killed, according to Palestinian reports. The strikes there have prompted use of the hashtag #GazaUnderAttack on Twitter; the same hashtag was used during the 2008 and 2012 Israeli military operations in Gaza.

Severe bombing of Gaza by Israeli jets happening right now! Allah Apna Rehm Farmaye.Ameen.— Dr Shahid Masood (@Shahidmasooddr)July 1, 2014

Soon after news broke that the bodies of the three boys had been discovered, Israeli forces raided the homes of the two Hamas members accused of kidnapping the teens, Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha. The Israeli military set off explosives in both homes, located north of Hebron; one child was wounded. The Israeli military also closed all entrances to Hebron and put the entire city on lockdown.

The home of Amer Abu Aisha, one of the two Hamas militants Israel has accused of the kidnappings, after the Israel military raided it Monday night. Photo by Kelly Lynn

The Israeli military's campaign to search for the missing boys, dubbed "Operation Brother's Keeper," lasted 18 days and was the largest military operation in the West Bank since the Second Intifada a decade ago. The operation killed at least five Palestinians, saw more than 2,100 Palestinian buildings in the West Bank raided, and led human rights groups to caution Israel about imposing collective punishment on the Palestinian population.


Yesterday, the Israeli military reported that the bodies of the three teens, 19-year-old Eyal Yifrah, 16-year-old Naftali Fraenkel, and 16-year-old Gilad Shaar were found in a field outside the Palestinian village of Halhul, in the southern West Bank. Thousands gathered in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem today for the funeral of the three Israelis. Last night, vigils were held in both Israel and the Israeli consulate in New York to mourn the death of the teens.

Israeli mourners gather in Zion Square in Jerusalem Monday evening.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement Monday morning condemning the kidnapping and killing of the Israeli teens, saying that “both sides should refrain from violence.”

In an emergency security cabinet meeting convened today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the teens "were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by animals." He added "Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay."

Other Israeli politicians quickly echoed this call for military action and revenge.

"This tragic ending must also be the ending of Hamas," Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said today. "The nation is strong and ready to absorb [attacks] for the sake of a mortal blow against Hamas. [W]e have to destroy the homes of Hamas activists, wipe out their arsenals everywhere, and stop the flow of money that directly or indirectly keeps terror alive.”

President Barack Obama said in a statement Monday, “As a father, I cannot imagine the indescribable pain that the parents of these teenage boys are experiencing. The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this senseless act of terror against innocent youth.”


Several reprisal attacks on Palestinians by Israelis were also reported Monday night in Jerusalem. A Palestinian was hospitalized after he said he was attacked by Israelis, and another Palestinian taxi driver was reportedly attacked with tear gas by a 17-year-old Israeli.

Anti-Arab and Palestinian graffiti was sprayed throughout Jerusalem and near Israeli settlements in the West Bank, calling for "revenge" and "death to Arabs."

Today, hundreds of right-wing Israelis demonstrated in Jerusalem demanding revenge for the deaths of the teens and chanting "death to the Arabs" in Hebrew.

Demonstrators shouting "death to Arabs" at demonstration in Jerusalem

Demonstrators clashed with police during the protests, as Israeli security forces attempted to quell the riots, resulting in dozens of arrests. According to CNN reporter Ben Wedemen, one demonstrator told him that they "after sundown we will attack them."

Mob on Jaffa Road, Jerusalem chanting

— benwedeman (@bencnn)July 1, 2014

Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: @obecker928