Dozens of Israeli airstrikes rocked areas of the Gaza Strip overnight and early Tuesday morning following a promise by the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Hamas would 'pay a heavy price' for the death of three Israeli teenagers whose bodies were discovered on Monday.
Netanyahu repeatedly accused the Hamas faction, which controls the Gaza Strip and recently formed a unity government with the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank, for the kidnapping of the three youths who went missing nearly three weeks ago.
"They were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by human animals," Netanyahu said following an emergency meeting of his cabinet Monday evening. "Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay."
In response to the threats, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri had his own strong words, telling Agence France-Presse: "If the occupiers carry out an escalation or a war, they will open the gates of hell on themselves."
According to CNN:
Overnight into Tuesday, more than 40 Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza, according to Palestinian security and medical sources. The strikes targeted Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militant groups, the sources said.
The Israeli military later said that forces had carried out strikes against 34 targets in Gaza, targeting terror infrastructure, after the firing of 18 rockets at Israel since Sunday evening.
"The war on terror continues. It didn't begin now and it will not be over soon," Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon of the Israel Defense Forces said Monday, vowing to pursue those responsible for the teenagers' deaths.
It was unclear Tuesday what further steps Israeli officials planned to take.
The search for the boys—Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel—ended when their partially buried bodies were found near the West Bank town of Hebron.
Hamas has denied responsibility for the disappearance of the boys while condemning the Israeli government's response, accusing it of using the missing teens as a pretext for political retribution against the formation of the Palestinian new unity government. Two men named as key suspects by Israeli officials are now reportedly "on the run." On Monday, the homes of these two men were reportedly destroyed by IDF forces.
In response to what was believed a kidnapping, Israel launched a widespread military operation in the West Bank, including raids and mass arrests, as part of their effort to find the young men. Palestinians accused the IDF of using heavy-handed tactics and tensions across the occupied territories have spiked.
In a raid following the discovery of the bodies on Monday, a Palestinian teenager was shot and killed by Israel Defense Forces in Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.
Palestinian Red Crescent medics told the Ma'an news agency that 16-year-old Yousef Abu Zagha was shot by Israeli fire in the chest during clashes with troops.