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Israeli searchers find the bodies of the three kidnapped teens

 

The bodies of the three Israeli teenagers-Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Frenkel, 16-who'd been kidnapped from a hitchhiking post south of Bethlehem on June 12 were found in a field north of Hebron in Judea-Samaria. Reports started coming in from The Algemeiner, Israel's Channel Two and Channel Ten, CNN, The Jerusalem Post and The Jewish Forward around 1 p.m. EDT on Monday, citing sources in the Israeli military.

"They were under a pile of rocks in an open field" between Halhul and Beit Kahil, according to IDF spokesman Peter Lerner.

IDF Kfir Battallion forces discovered the lifeless bodies at about 5 p.m.; it is unclear, as of this post, when the three were killed, although sources said they may have been murdered soon after their abduction.

"...three bodies were discovered in the area north-west to Hebron, north of the community of Telem," the army said in a statement.

"The bodies are currently going through forensic identification," the army said, "adding that the families of the abducted teens have been notified."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an emergency Security Cabinet meeting about the issue.

Last week, the Israel Security Agency said it believed two "Hamas activists from Hebron" were behind the teens' disappearances.

Israeli security forces conducted an extensive search for the teens. Within days after their disappearance, Israeli soldiers had detained more than 150 Palestinian suspects. The military said Hamas leaders and operatives were among the suspects.

In addition to the breaking news, condolences started pouring in from various Jewish and political groups.

The Jewish Federations of North America and the worldwide Jewish community joined with the State of Israel today in grief and horror following the announcement of the tragic deaths of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar.

Michael Siegal, chair of the Jewish Federations Board of Trustees, issued the following statement:

"It is simply unimaginable that anyone could commit such a heinous and despicable act such as this. As Jews, as mothers and fathers, as sons and daughters, and simply as people, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Eyal, Naftali and Gilad at this time. There is no reason - none - why a tragedy like this should have occurred. The Jewish Federations stand alongside our brothers and sisters across the world and in Israel in condemnation of this senseless murder, and we pray that those responsible are swiftly brought to justice."

Frank Dimant, CEO, B'nai Brith Canada: "Today's news confirmed our darkest fears-something that no parent should ever know. We join together with all Canadians in expressing our deepest sympathies at the loss of these three young boys."

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said

"We are beyond shocked, outraged and heartbroken by these despicable murders. Once again, Hamas has revealed its true colors: This group blatantly disregards human life, and it doesn't even refrain from hijacking innocent teenagers. Those who committed this heinous crime must be hunted down and brought to justice.

"Clearly, Hamas is a terrorist organization, and it must be dismantled, and it is the responsibility of Mahmoud Abbas to remove all Hamas-linked officials from his government immediately and fight terrorism vigorously and urgently. Abu Mazen needs to show leadership now," Lauder declared.

 

He also urged the international community, and in particular the United States and the European Union, to halt all financial support for the Palestinian Authority until Hamas is excluded from all government bodies.

"This murder must spur the world into action, and the fight against fanatic, extremist groups such as Hamas must be stepped up urgently."

Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel on Monday told the Jerusalem Post that Israel was in "heavy mourning" after the bodies of the three Israeli teens kidnapped in Judea-Samaria earlier this month were discovered earlier in the day.

"The Jewish people are united in prayer and a brotherhood that should always exist," the Bayit Yehudi minister said.

"In times of war, we must strike terrorists mercilessly on the one hand, and to give a proper Zionist answer on the other hand," Ariel said, suggesting that Israel should increase building in the settlements in response to the murder of the three teenagers.

The Republican Jewish Coalition Chairman David Flaum said:

"On behalf of the leaders, members, and staff of the Republican Jewish Coalition, I offer our sincere condolences to the Frenkel, Shaar, and Yifrah families. Along with Jews around the world, we shared in the hope that Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal would return home safely. We are deeply saddened by the loss of the three young men.

"The Israeli government made every effort to find the boys after they were kidnapped on June 12. We hope that the people responsible for their kidnapping and murder will be swiftly found and brought to justice.

"May the Frenkel, Shaar, and Yifrah families be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem."

Robert G. Sugarman, chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman, of Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Issued the following statement: "We are horrified and devastated by the reports, now confirmed, that the three boys Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel, kidnapped on June 12th, have been found dead in the Hebron area. We have communicated our condolences and solidarity to the families and Government of Israel and pray that they will be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. Those responsible for this heinous and barbaric crime and those who aid and abet them, support them, and inspire them must be brought to swift justice and be punished to the fullest extent of the law. It is time that the world stand in unity against those who advocate and execute, as well as justify, the murder of innocent young people who are brutally butchered in Israel or anywhere. It cannot be met by indifference or pro-forma expressions of sympathy. For too long the threats against Israel, including missiles and terrorism, have elicited limited responses, with the roles of victims and perpetrators inverted. It must stop.

"For now we mourn together with all the people of Israel and all who value human life. May their memories be for a blessing." 

While in Israel as part of a congressional fact-finding mission and were to meet with the families on Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), ranking member of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, issued this statement: "No words can adequately express the sorrow and sadness we feel for the families of Gilad, Naftali and Eyal, the people of Israel and the entire Jewish community worldwide. This is a day of tragedy and mourning; the world has lost three beloved sons, friends, and beautiful souls who were taken from us too early, but will forever live on in our hearts and minds. We will continue to support the Government of Israel in its efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice, and we offer the people of Israel our deepest and most heartfelt condolences as we grieve with them. If it is determined that Hamas is behind this horrific tragedy, Abu Mazen must immediately break up the unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas, a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization."

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs President Rabbi Steve Gutow expressed profound sorrow and said, "We extend our condolences to the families for their unspeakable pain. Nothing can undo the tragedy of their murders.

"They were just boys. They had their futures inhumanely robbed from them. We are torn to pieces with sadness. Our grief is matched by a resolve to support the effort to find those whose are responsible and expeditiously bring them to justice."

"This is the saddest possible news for the families of these young boys, Israelis, and all of us around the world who have been praying for their safe return since they disappeared two weeks ago," said JCPA Chair Susan W. Turnbull.

The Jewish National Fund announced that in tribute to their memories, JNF will create gardens to honor Naftali z"l, Gilad z"l and Eyal z"l.

Other groups who immediately sent press releases expressing their shock and sorrow include B'nai B'rith International, Agudath Israel, The Aleph Society Inc. and International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

 

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