Saturday 7 December 2019

Israeli troops kill Hamas men blamed for slaying teens -army

Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel (L-R), the three Israeli teenagers who disappeared when hitchhiking near a Jewish settlement on June 12, and whose bodies were found in the occupied West Bank on June 30, 2014, are seen in this undated combination handout picture released by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) on July 1, 2014
Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel (L-R), the three Israeli teenagers who disappeared when hitchhiking near a Jewish settlement on June 12, and whose bodies were found in the occupied West Bank on June 30, 2014, are seen in this undated combination handout picture released by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) on July 1, 2014
Three Israeli seminary students (from L-R) Naftali Fraenkel, 16, who also holds U.S. citizenship, Gil-Ad Shaer, 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, are seen in this combination picture of undated family handout photos released June 16, 2014.REUTERS/Handout
Three Israeli seminary students (from L-R) Naftali Fraenkel, 16, who also holds U.S. citizenship, Gil-Ad Shaer, 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19. Photo: Reuters/Handout

Israeli troops have killed two Palestinians blamed for abducting and killing three Israeli youths in the occupied West Bank in June, the military said, an incident that spiralled into a seven-week war in Gaza.

Israel had spent months searching for Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha, militants in their 30s from the Hebron area, after naming them as the killers of the Israeli teens, grabbed and shot dead near a Jewish settlement on June 12.

Hebron residents said troops had surrounded a house in the city before dawn and reported sounds of gunfire.

The forces were seeking to arrest Kawasme and Abu Aysha when a firefight erupted, in which the two wanted men were killed, Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said in a telephone briefing.

"We opened fire, they returned fire and they were killed in the exchange," Lerner said. "We have visual confirmation for one. The second one, we have no visual confirmation, but the assumption is he was killed."

Read more here: Bodies of three missing teens found in West Bank

Israeli PM Netanyahu stands next to the fathers of two of the three Israeli teens abducted
Israeli PM Netanyahu stands next to the fathers of two of the three Israeli teens abducted
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) stands next to Avi Fraenkel (L) and Ofir Shaer, fathers of two of the three Israeli teens who were abducted and killed in the occupied West Bank, as they hug during their sons' joint funeral in the Israeli city of Modi'in. Tens of thousands of mourners joined in an outpouring of national grief on Tuesday at the burial of the three Israeli teenagers, Gil-Ad Shaer, U.S.-Israeli national Naftali Fraenkel, both 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, whose kidnapping and killing Israel blamed on the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu eulogizes the three Israeli teens, Gil-Ad Shaer, U.S.-Israeli national Naftali Fraenkel, both 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, who were abducted and killed in the occupied West Bank, during their joint funeral in the Israeli city of Modi'in. Tens of thousands of mourners joined in an outpouring of national grief on Tuesday at the burial of the three Israeli teenagers whose kidnapping and killing Israel blamed on the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Bat-Galim Shaer (R) and Iris Yifrah (C), mothers of two of the three Israeli teens who were abducted and killed in the occupied West Bank, mourn during the joint funeral of their sons in the Israeli city of Modi'in. Tens of thousands of mourners joined in an outpouring of national grief on Tuesday at the burial of the three Israeli teenagers, Gil-Ad Shaer, U.S.-Israeli national Naftali Fraenkel, both 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, whose kidnapping and killing Israel blamed on the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Jewish youths mourn on the grave of one of three Israeli teens who were abducted and killed in the occupied West Bank, in the Israeli city of Modi'in . Tens of thousands of mourners joined in an outpouring of national grief on Tuesday at the burial of three Israeli teenagers, Gil-Ad Shaer, U.S.-Israeli national Naftali Fraenkel, both 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, whose kidnapping and killing Israel blamed on the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly
Bat-Galim Shaer, (C) supports her daughter Shirel Shaer as she speaks at the funeral ceremony of Gilad Shaer, 16, at his hometown in Talmon settelment, West Bank. The bodies of Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, were found on Monday, north of the Palestinian town Halhul, just north of Hebron (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu eulogizes the three Israeli teens, Gil-Ad Shaer, U.S.-Israeli national Naftali Fraenkel, both 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, who were abducted and killed in the occupied West Bank, during their joint funeral in the Israeli city of Modi'in. Tens of thousands of mourners joined in an outpouring of national grief on Tuesday at the burial of the three Israeli teenagers whose kidnapping and killing Israel blamed on the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.
Bat-Galim (front R), Ofir (front L) and Shirel (front C) Shaer, parents and sister of Gil-Ad, 16, one of three Israeli teens who were abducted and killed in the occupied West Bank, sit next to the Israeli flag-covered body of Gil-Ad during a memorial service before his funeral in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Talmon July 1, 2014
Friends and relatives mourn during a memorial service for Gil-Ad Shaer, 16, one of three Israeli teens who were abducted and killed in the occupied West Bank, before his funeral in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Talmon July 1, 2014
Friends and relatives mourn during a memorial service for Gil-Ad Shaer, 16, one of three Israeli teens who were abducted and killed in the occupied West Bank, before his funeral in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Talmon July 1, 2014
Avi and Rachel Fraenkel embrace during the funeral of their 16-year-old son Naftali (AP)
Three Israeli seminary students (from L-R) Naftali Fraenkel, 16, who also holds U.S. citizenship, and Gil-Ad Shaer, 16 are seen in this combination picture of undated family handout photos. Israeli security forces on June 30, 2014 found the bodies of the three teenagers who went missing in the West Bank earlier this month and confirmed them as the Israeli seminary students sought since June 12, Israeli media reported. REUTERS/Handout

Palestinian officials have not confirmed the men were killed, however.

The two men were affiliated with the Hamas militant group which runs Gaza, and a group leader praised their deed in August, though other top officials denied any advance knowledge.

Israeli forces began West Bank sweeps and rounded up hundreds of suspected Hamas members after the three teens, Jewish seminary students Eyal Yifrach, 19, and 16-year-olds Gilad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel, went missing.

Read more here: Israel bombs Gaza sites hours after bodies of Israeli teens found

Their bodies were found in June near Hebron. After initially denying involvement in the killings, Hamas last month acknowledged responsibility.

The arrest of several hundred Palestinians in house-to-house raids across the West Bank stoked hostilities with Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip, where Israel launched an offensive on July 8 after a surge of Palestinian rocket fire at its towns.

Gaza medical officials say 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed. Sixty-seven Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel were also killed.

Reuters

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