Bodies of Missing Israeli Teens Found in West Bank

An Israeli woman holds a sign showing images of the Israeli teenagers at a rally in Tel Aviv on Sunday. (Photograph: Baz Ratner/Reuters)

Bodies of Missing Israeli Teens Found in West Bank

Boys who went missing nearly three weeks ago discovered buried near Hebron

The bodies of three Israeli teenagers who went missing in the occupied West Bank nearly three weeks ago were discovered near the city of Hebron on Monday.

"The bodies are currently going through forensic identification," the Israeli army said in a statement. "The families of the abducted teens have been notified."

According to Haaretz:

A large contingent of Israeli security forces were in the West Bank Monday evening between the Palestinian town of Halhul and the West Bank settlement Karmei Tzur, just north of Hebron, where a wide search after the three missing kidnapped teens took place earlier on Monday.

Eyal Yifrah, 19, from Elad, Gilad Shaar, 16, from Talmon and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, from Nof Ayalon went missing from a hitchhiking station at the Gush Etzion intersection. Naftali Fraenkel was also an American citizen.

Following the kidnapping, the Israel Defense Forces launched Operation Brother's Keeper, a massive search for the three throughout the West Bank and conducted operations against Hamas, which Israel held responsible for the abduction.

The Guardianreports:

The abduction of the three youths has become a heated political issue both on the domestic and international political front, with Palestinian leaders accusing the Israeli government of using it as an excuse to smash the new Palestinian unity government backed by Hamas.

However, even within Palestinian circles cross to President Mahmoud Abbas, concerns had been growing over the potential fallout that would follow the revelation the teenagers had been kidnapped or killed by militants associated with, or member of, Hamas with one official telling the Guardian the unity government would be dead in the water.

And the Ma'an news agency adds:

Israeli forces late Monday surrounded the homes of two men suspected of kidnapping and killing three Israeli teens, and prepared to demolish the houses, locals said.

Witnesses told Ma'an Israeli soldiers had forced the residents out of the houses of Ammar Abu Eisha and Marwan al-Qawasmeh, and were preparing for demolition. [...]

Israel says the two men who kidnapped the teens are Ammar Abu Eisha, 29, and Marwan al-Qawasmeh, 33, both from Hebron.

The Israeli army said on Thursday that it was still searching for Abu Eisha and al-Qawasmeh.

Abu Eisha's family has denied the allegations.

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