Gaza hit with airstrikes as thousands mourn Israeli teenagers
July 1, 2014 11:06 PM
Menahem Kahana/Getty Images
Ofir, the father of Gilad Shaer, 16, hugs a mourner as they stand in front of his son's body during a funeral service at his hometown, the Talmon Jewish settlement, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on Tuesday.
By Ruth Eglash / The Washington Post
JERUSALEM — Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered Tuesday at a funeral service for three teenagers whose bodies were found Monday, more than two weeks after they disappeared in a kidnapping that Israel says was carried out by the militant Islamist group Hamas.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated his vows to punish the Palestinian group, which runs the Gaza Strip and has denied involvement in the June 12 abduction and subsequent killings. He summoned his security cabinet Tuesday night to discuss Israel’s response, hours after Israeli aircraft pounded dozens of targets in Gaza.
Speaking a day after the teens’ bodies were discovered in a field near the West Bank city of Hebron, Mr. Netanyahu pledged that everyone involved in the crime “will bear the consequences.” He said Israeli forces, which have arrested nearly 400 alleged terror operatives and killed at least five Palestinians during a more than two-week search, would “vigorously strike at Hamas members and infrastructure” in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Mr. Netanyahu faced renewed pressure Tuesday to avenge the teens’ death, including from his hard-line foreign minister, who called for a ground invasion in Gaza. But those calls were relatively muted, as Israelis focused on mourning the teens, whose deaths sparked a nationwide outpouring of outrage and grief.
Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, disappeared while making their way home from their religious schools in the tense West Bank. Fraenkel was a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen. The three were buried together in a cemetery in the city of Modiin, halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, in a service at which Mr. Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres spoke.
Earlier in the day, the teens’ families held separate eulogies in their home communities and then accompanied the bodies to the public funeral, which thousands of Israelis streamed to in shuttles.
The Israeli military pressed Tuesday with its largest and most aggressive security sweep in the West Bank in decades, searching for two suspects who it says carried out the abduction and murders. Israeli officials have said the suspects, Marwan Kawasmeh, 29, and Amer Abu Aysha, 33, are both operatives of Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union.
On Tuesday, the Israeli military blew up the entrances to and raided the homes of the two men, who have not been seen since the night the teenagers went missing.
Overnight, a military spokesman said, soldiers made three additional arrests in the West Bank; Palestinian media reported that a 16-year-old was killed during the raid.