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Israelis Flood Teens' Burial Service

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu eulogizes three Israeli teens who were abducted and killed in the West Bank during their joint funeral in Modiin, July 1, 2014.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu eulogizes three Israeli teens who were abducted and killed in the West Bank during their joint funeral in Modiin, July 1, 2014.

Tens of thousands of mourners joined in central Israel for a funeral service for three teenagers found dead in the West Bank nearly three weeks after they disappeared.

The three were buried Tuesday in the Israeli town of Modiin. Israeli leaders have accused the Hamas militant group of abducting and killing the three, one age 19 and the other two 16.

The deaths have prompted an outpouring of national grief and angry calls for revenge. Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres spoke at the funeral and vowed to punish Hamas.

Meanwhile, Israeli troops have raided the homes of two men suspected of abducting the three Israeli teenagers.

Television footage showed troops setting off explosions at the home of Amer Abu Aisheh early Tuesday in Hebron. Witnesses reported a similar operation Tuesday at the home of Marwan Qawasmeh.

Israel said the two men were members of the militant group Hamas, which has denied any involvement in the teenagers' disappearance.

Israel's security cabinet, which held an emergency session late on Monday, was due to meet again on Tuesday, officials said.

An Israeli official familiar with the content of the meeting confirmed reports that Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon suggested a "measured" response that would not lead to an escalation with Gaza, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was inclined to accept his position.

The security Cabinet did not vote on Yaalon's proposal and was expected to reconvene on Tuesday evening.

The abduction and murders are putting pressure on Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a month after he angered Israel by forming a unity government with Hamas.

Israel, the United States, the European Union and even Egypt consider Hamas a terrorist organization.

"President Abbas must now, immediately, annul his pact with Hamas," said Israeli spokesman Mark Regev. "If the Palestinian leadership says that it’s opposed to terrorism, they cannot be in a political alliance with the murderers of children.”

Blaming Hamas

Netanyahu had promised Hamas would pay after the discovery of the three Jewish seminary students' bodies under a pile of rocks near the West Bank city of Hebron on Monday.

FILE - A combination of three photos of, from left, Israeli teens Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, a 16-year-old with dual Israeli-U.S. citizenship, who disappeared near Hebron on June 12.

FILE - A combination of three photos of, from left, Israeli teens Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, a 16-year-old with dual Israeli-U.S. citizenship, who disappeared near Hebron on June 12.

The three teens - Gilad Shaer, 16, from Talmon settlement near the West Bank city of Ramallah; Naftali Frenkel, 16, from Nof Ayalon, and Eyal Ifrach, 19, from Elad, both towns in central Israel – disappeared while hitchhiking June 12.

The Islamist group has neither confirmed nor denied Israel's allegations about its role in the disappearance of the students.

Abbas has said Israel must provide proof that Hamas is to blame, adding, however, that whoever is responsible must be condemned.

Palestinian legislator Abdallah Abdallah said, "The loss of lives, whether Israeli or Palestinian, we regret that and we feel sorry for that.”

But Hamas has warned that Israel would "open the gates of hell" if it carried out any reprisal operations against the Islamist movement, whose power base is in Gaza, the French news agency AFP reported.

In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri warned Israel against going too far.

"The response of the resistance has been limited, and Netanyahu must not test Hamas's patience," said Abu Zuhri, whose group's arsenal includes rockets that can reach Tel Aviv.

Halhul

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Israel’s Yaalon vowed the deaths would not go unavenged.

"Hamas is responsible for the kidnapping and murder of the youths and we know how to settle accounts with them," Yaalon said. "We will continue to hunt the killers of the youngsters, we will not rest nor will we be silent until we lay our hands on them."

In the West Bank on Tuesday, an Israeli military spokeswoman said troops opened fire at a man, identified by Palestinian officials as Yousouf Al-Zagha, 19, who threw a grenade at soldiers who were attempting to arrest a militant in the Jenin refugee camp.

A Palestinian who witnessed the incident said Zagha was an innocent passerby.

The U.N. human rights office urged all Israelis and Palestinians to exercise "maximum restraint."

Israeli unity

The kidnapping appalled Israelis who rallied behind the youngsters' families in a display of national unity.

"They were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by beasts. ... Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay," Netanyahu said in a statement on Monday.

Before a joint burial in the Israeli city of Modiin, funeral services were held outside the homes the three teens. The three will be laid to rest side-by-side at the Modiin cemetery.

“There hasn't been a show of unity like this in Israel for years,” Fraenkel's father, Avraham, said at the service, as he stood facing the body of his son, which was draped with an Israeli flag.

Speaking at Shaar's funeral in Talmon, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid said they were not burying a soldier but "the child of each and every one of us."

"We need each other on this day," Lapid added.

The teens, who attended a religious school in a Jewish settlement, had apparently been shot soon after being taken, officials said. Two of the youths lived in Israel.

The men Israel has accused of carrying out the abductions are still at large. They were identified as Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Eishe.

Israeli media said the break in the case came after their relatives were interrogated.

Troops set off explosions in the family homes of the alleged abductors late on Monday, blowing open a doorway in one, an army spokeswoman said. The other property was on fire after the blast. Neighbors said both houses were empty.

"This kind of act is a sin, whether you're a Muslim or Jew. They've scared the kids so much," Um Sharif, the mother of one of the alleged kidnappers said about the damage caused to her home. She said she did not believe her son had been involved.

Hamas has been rocked by the arrest of dozens of its activists in an Israeli military sweep in the West Bank over the past three weeks during the search for the teenagers that Israel said was also aimed at weakening the militant movement.

Up to six Palestinians died as a result of the Israeli operation, local residents said

World reaction

After news of the teenagers' deaths, condolence messages and condemnation of the killings poured in from foreign leaders.

"The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms, this senseless act of terror against innocent youths," President Barack Obama said in a statement. "I also urge all parties to refrain from steps that could further destabilize the situation."

At the Vatican, Pope Francis called the killings "abominable" and said they are a grave obstacle to peace.

Netanyahu seized on the abduction to demand Abbas annul a reconciliation deal he reached with Hamas, his long-time rival, in April that led to a unity Palestinian government on June 2.

Abbas condemned the abduction and pledged the cooperation of his security forces, drawing criticism from Hamas and undercutting his popularity among Palestinians angered by what they saw as his collusion with Israel.

Hamas, which has maintained security control of the Gaza Strip since the unity deal, is shunned by the West over its refusal to renounce violence. The group has called for Israel's destruction, although various officials have at times indicated a willingness to negotiate a long-term cease-fire.

Robert Berger contributed from Jerusalem. Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.

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