News / Middle East

Israelis Flood Teens' Burial Service

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.
VOA News

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.

  • Bat-Galim Shaar, right, and Iris Yifrah, center, mothers of two of the three Israeli teens who were abducted and killed in the West Bank, mourn during the joint funeral of their sons in Modiin, July 1, 2014.
  • Family and friends of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel, three Israeli teenagers who were abducted over two weeks ago, mourn during their funeral in Modiin, July 1, 2014.
  • People gather following a blast at the family home in Hebron of one of the men Israel accuses of kidnapping three teenagers who were later found dead, July 1, 2014.
  • Candles are placed next to a picture of three Israeli teenagers who were abducted and killed, in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, June 30, 2014.
  • Israelis light candles as they gather in Jerusalem after the announcement that the bodies of the three missing teenagers were found near the West Bank town of Hebron, June 30, 2014.
  • Israeli women hug each other as people light candles in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square as they mourn the death of three teenagers who were abducted, June 30, 2014.
  • Flames are seen after a blast on the top floor of the family home in Hebron of one of the men Israel accuses of kidnapping three teenagers who were later found dead, July 1, 2014.
  • Palestinians carry the body of Yosuf abu Zaghah who was killed by Israeli troops in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin, July 1, 2014.

 

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.
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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.

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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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by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
July 02, 2014 7:24 PM
Godwin I agreed with you, because there some fact I wrote about the Islamic prophet, and they will not published it. But anything against Israel and Jesus, the media will publish them. is the media now bias? or has the media gotten so bad off in the democratic nation? Is it not the media duty to publish the truth? We need VOA to do more, Because the truth need to be told. the world is waiting for the truth. The media is antisemitic and they also are contributing to the lies and the destruction of Israel. And this needs to stop. God Bless Facebook, cuz Facebook will not hold back nothing. Facebook will publish I write, and this is just a social media, VOA needs to do more.


by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 02, 2014 8:05 AM
Why does VOA publish articles and contributions that weigh greater against Israel and leave out those in favor of Israel? How antisemitic has the media house grown in recent times to try to paint a picture of Israel having less support than it actually does have? It's a Shame to see a media house in so-called democratic nation doing this. Must everybody follow the president of USA's position - no love lost between Obama and Israel?


by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
July 02, 2014 4:12 AM
The killing of those teens must bring about the end of Gaza, Gaza must go down. Israel cannot sit there and take this nonsense all the time because of the IC. Look at what is happening in Iraq and Syria, what are they doing? had it been Israel, then you will hear the voice of the IC. Well the IC is about to see Gaza going down. Cuz Gaza must pay. It is pay day in Gaza. Israel needs to teach all its enemy a hard lesson. They need to learn you just can mess with Israel. God bless Israel, Shalom to Israel

In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 03, 2014 4:06 AM
Right on Padmore, an eye for an eye! Or is it a slice of pie for a slice of pie? Killing is killing, as long as there are people like you, the killing will go on and on and we will have just a dam good time killing. Bin Laden murdered over 3,000 of our people with hijacked aircraft, so went did what you said Israel should do. Look at what we havae accomplished!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So what will Israel accomplish by seeking revenge? It will only cause Palestinians and arabs to do the same. Like I said, killing is killing, oh the fun to be had with killing!!!!!!!!!!!


by: hasan from: usa
July 01, 2014 4:56 PM
Tis is the rift israel is started it with america some two or more hundred years ago but finally they got it to capture only muslim cus they know Muslims are chosen one till the day of judgement day. Ask every christan people hearts to think why is it like what is going on. Indeed it is bad what is happening for the religion name.
Why muslim is choozen one ask every israel peoples.

In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 02, 2014 3:49 AM
Yep, again with religion before humanity! Chosen ones? Did you watch Kung Pow? I though he was the chosen one? Of course I am being silly. It's the fact that anyone who claims to be part of the chosen should be as equally as silly. So, chosen ones are allowed to murder, rape children, destroy lives, commit the utmost evil to others, just because they are the chosen ones? Glad I am not a chosen one, I don't possess that kind of evil. Thanks Hasan! Please let me know before your chosen ones come to chop me up so that I can make sure I didn't leave the stove on. Don't want to waste electricity......... while I am BEING CHOPPED UP!!!

Oh yeah, and blame America! Your chosen ones have been doing these kinds of evils before America was even discovered. Even though the natives in America said "Hey Geronimo, I didn't know that the land we have been living on, for thousands and thousands of years, was called America?"

And YES, what these radical MUSLIMS are doing is EVIL! Just like the Christians with the Crusades (you call them jihads) or the Spanish Inquisition or the Salem Witch Trials................EVIL! Just like the Jews mass murdering unarmed Palestinians, including women and children..........EVIL!

Humanity is the chosen one, not religion! Get your facts straight! Even in the Koran, God created man. MAN!!! (which does include man and woman, "man" alludes to both) He created MAN! Not MUSLIM! Not JEW! Not CHRISTIAN! GOD CREATED MAN THEREFORE MAN IS THE CHOSEN ONE!!!! Good grief, can I make these letters any bigger? GOd did not create any religion, MAN DID!!!! God did not order the raping, burNing, tearing apart of children and babies, MAN DID!!! Get your facts straight and help all of us to STOP THIS EVIL known as religion! The one and only way to truly worship and love GOD is to take care of the world HE made for us, and take care of each other! That's HIS worship!!!! That's the only way HE wants us to worship him! Or She, sorry women, maybe we need to find a way to talk about God without the gender reference.


by: Mubashir Ayub from: Saudi Arabia
July 01, 2014 4:39 PM
Well what about the hundreds of Palestinian teenagers and children who have been abducted and killed by Israel? Is their blood worth any less than the blood of those three Israeli teens? Where is the international outrage over their senseless murders?

In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 03, 2014 4:23 AM
Sooooooooooooooo, where is the outrage from the Palestinians when a Palestinian murders an Israeli? Where's the outrage from the Israelis when an Israeli murders a Palestinian? Look from within and convince the world that your people are better than the Israelis, and that YOUR PEOPLE will not stand for this kind of behavior, especially FROM YOUR OWN PEOPLE!!!!!!!! International outrage should be the least of your concerns, reagardless of who's side it is on. By the way, there is international outrage for what happens to the Palestinians, but you seem to only focus on the international outrage that is pro-Israel. We as human beings (yes, non-Muslims are human beings, even though you do not honor that) should be outraged to the harm done to women and children, ragardless of the outrages that pander to a religious/ehtnical group!!!!!!!!

If you respond to me, Ayub, keep this in mind: I am an American. We stand for equality and freedom for all peoples of all faiths, non-faiths, homosexuals, races, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Mormons. We have struggled so hard to get to this point in our history. I would proudly put my life on the line for my fellow Americans, and the innocents of the world.

My question to you is: would you give your life to shield an Israeli child from one of your fellow Arabian?

In Response

by: Rachel from: planet earth
July 02, 2014 9:23 AM
Sir, stop the lies and please learn to tell the difference between the culprit and the innocent.
1. Most Arabs now called "Palestinians" are to blame for all the terror they caused, for their own sufferings as well as others in the Western/Israel world.
2. "Palestinians" as a distinct people do not exist as we speak, most are Arabs of different tribal factions and many originated in the Saudi Arabia. These Arabs, who are not citizens of Israel, should be absorbed by their own people in the land mass of 21 Arab countries, all newly created after W.W.I.l.; then peace will come to all. Indeed, get your facts straight, Mr. Ayub Mubashir!


by: Valentine from: Lagos
July 01, 2014 3:48 PM
Israel, ur God is alive. Do not be afraid to protect ur people. Do not be afraid to stand alone. Remember those days in Egypt n how ur God brought u out. Remember the covenant with Abraham, n the oath God made to Jacob. Obama is satanic, Isreal be wise. No power can destroy Isreal, even all the nuclear weapons in the world can never destroy Isreal, cus Adonai is Isreal.

In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 02, 2014 4:39 AM
Yes Israel, do remember those days in Egypt. When Egypt enslaved you! Thanks be to God for freeing you from the Egyptian slavemasters. Thanks be to God when you travelled to the promised land to take slaves of your own! What?????

Yes, remember the covenant of Abraham, who sent his wife to the Pharaoh to deceive him into helping the Jews. Yes, remember the covenant of Abraham who had God plague the Pharaoh because Abraham and Sarah lied to him! Yes! I love this!!! Remember the convenant of Abraham when Sarah made Hagar bare Abraham's first son! Oh this is getting rich! Remember the convenant of Abraham when Sarah banished Hagar and her child Ishmael into the desert to DIE because Sarah was now pregnant with what she wanted to be Abraham's first son.

Don't forget Noah who brought male/female of all animals of the earth onto a boat, the size of a boat that was never again built until 5,000 YEARS LATER!!!!!! Glad the kangaroos were good swimmers, Noah obviously forgot about them! But the unicorns did leave a message that was discovered in a dig near Mt Ararat, it read: "Dear Noah, I thought you said be at the pier at 1900? Thanks for nothing! Do we get a refund for these tickets? And tell Shem to stop asking me if I'm 'horny', that joke has run it's course!"

Have we truly lost our minds with this stuff!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All these stories in all these bibles and korans and all sacred texts that justify inhumane acts, yet we have the Ten Commandments, I'm confused. Thou shalt not kill. First thing Moses and Aaron did was MURDER those they felt responsible for the golden calf and Spring Break partying. No trial, no questioning, no lawyers, no media hype, just take up thy sword and let's kill this tribe! All religions insult God and justify inhumane/evil acts! Except Mormons, they believe in magic pebbles, so leave them out! At least Mormons laugh at my goofy jokes.


by: Rand Vee from: Hayden, ID
July 01, 2014 12:57 PM
Isn't it amazing that the only comment under the heading of "World Reaction" is from the USA? Certainly this news has spread to many other nations and yet they don't respond? More likely their response is too realistic and casts doubts on the authenticity of the rights of the aggrieved (Israel) to simply use military force against the accused (Persons or the entirety of Gaza?) before any investigation has been properly carried out. If we in the USA continue to support this kind of violent action then we are inviting a similar response here at home.

How would you like to have an F-16 shoot at your home simply because a family member is accused of a hate crime, and no proof is offered, no due process, no court, no trial, no right to face your accuser? If we support this in Israel, then we invite it into our own lives as soon, the J-owned banksters who corrupt Washington with their money (lobbying) will tear asunder our Constitution and Bill of Rights to match their own illicit rule. (Hasbara Trolls: I will not be baited into further commentary.)


by: John Richardson from: San Diego, CA
July 01, 2014 11:50 AM
Israel you must do what you must do. You are on your own, you have NO friends anymore. Obama has to please his master (Allah) and will support the enemies of Israel. If three American teens were abducted by Mexican drug cartel operatives you could be sure that the citizens of America would hold Mexico accountable whether Obama acted or not. The pieces are falling into place, and the players are choosing sides. Expect the worse to come.

In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 02, 2014 4:54 AM
We can never engage into any Muslim/Jewish related topic without injecting 'God's chosen people', 'enemies of Islam' regardless of what is going on. When will we reach the point in humanity that THE HUMAN BEING COMES FIRST NOT RELIGION!!!!!!!! And NO, Godwin of Nigeria, John was not implying if Obama fails, then America fails! He said we as Americans will stand up, regardless what our totally lame and incompetent Obama does, or doesn't do. Obama was Sunni raised, so of course he doesn't have the care for Israel like America should. But America should care for Israel ad much for Palestinians the same! That's the point that should be argued! Not "God is Israel and everyone else is doomed!" Religious fanaticism is alive and well. Let's wish bad things on people because fo my religious beliefs! That great, as if we didn't already have bad enough things happening today. Thanks Godwin, I can relax now. As long as religion is running our common senses, then the world of humanity is doomed! Peiod! Maybe religion was invented by apes? They must haave known we would be suckers for it and kill each other because of it. Wow, smart apes they are! hang in there apes, we are getting closer to WIPING OURSELVES OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH because of the greatest invention of all time....religion! Good job Godwin, so who else can we doom? The platypus? They don't care, they're still mad about being the joke of God's creations. Glad they don't jihad, or crusade....same thing.....

In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 01, 2014 12:25 PM
Are you serious with this, John Richardson, or are you just thinking because Obama fails, so all of America fails? No please, don't bring in such scary idea at all. God is on the side of the Jews and Israel will not fall. Instead, as God remains God on the throne, the enemies of Israel are doomed.


by: Enki sumer from: Queens ny
July 01, 2014 10:44 AM
The text that was just sent...I'm not ashamed.of my comment as it was indeed sent in love......have we tried.considered,even THOUGHT about LOVE....these are so called religions that worship and profess to serve a God....if their God proclaims.murder FROM EITHER SIDE...THEIR GOD ID INDEED ...SATAN...bcuz ..God is LOVE..who says"HOW.CAN U HATE ONE U CAN SEE AND PROFESS TO LOVE AND WORSHIP ME...WHO U CAN'T SEE.....WE NEED LOVE!...try it...it is ALL POWERFUL..CUZ GOD IS.AND WILL ALWAYS BE .....LOVE...look how he's forgiven us HUMAN IDIOTS IN OUR HATRED.RETRIBUTION.BIGOTRY..GREED..AND INHUMANITY TO HIS CHILDREN.

In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 02, 2014 5:30 AM
Enki, keep those words close to your heart and repeat those words to whomever you have contact with. That's what we all should be saying about anything that brings sorrow, suffering, and inhuman acts upon this world or anywhere in God's universe! God did not create any religion. God did not create any bible, koran, sacred text of any sort. God created mankind, earth, sun, universe, all things! No religion should have ever condoned or justified any inhumane acts. No religion should have ever made an inch of land more sacred than another. God created earth with his bare hands, so ALL of earth is sacred!!!! God created mankind, not Jew, not Muslim, not Christian, not Buddhist, no religious sect of any kind. We have been plagued with religion long enough, time to move on. Let's put humanity first, religion last! Look at the garbage that is going on in the world today, and most of it is because of religious beliefs. It's not just Palestinians suffering, not just Israeli teens suffering, it's not just Nigerian schools girls suffering (the tears do flow more for this one), but it's humanity suffering and seems to be getting worse than ever. I normally add a little quip or comedy in my rantings, but your words, Enki, deserve nothing less than honor and dignity from us all. Thank you, the world needs to hear your words more and more. May God bless you and give you the strength to continue spreading these words.


by: GoatGuy from: Berkeley, CA, USA
July 01, 2014 10:37 AM
The rift between these (literally) ethnic brothers is deep; the fieriness of youth legend. Unfortunate are they, as their holy books declare God-given rights and God-demanded sacrifices of enemies, of prisoners, of sheep. Yet, how can anyone among them not admire the other? Tenacity.

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