Grief-stricken Israelis lit candles in the streets in memory of the three abducted teenagers who were found dead Monday afternoon, while Israel Defense Forces jets struck 34 suspected terrorist sites in Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to punish Hamas, the terrorist group he accused of being behind the killing of Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Frenkel, 16, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen; however, a cabinet meeting adjourned overnight reportedly with no agreement on what form the punishment would take.
The Obama administration urged restraint:
It is vitally important that all parties avoid steps that could further increase tensions and destabilize the situation
— Susan Rice (@AmbassadorRice) July 1, 2014
Israeli air force jets hit 34 targets in Gaza Tuesday morning in response to a barrage of rocket attacks on southern Israeli communities in recent days.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 1, 2014
Israel is also blaming Hamas for the rocket fire, with a senior military official telling the Times of Israel that Hamas bore “clear responsibility” for the recent barrage.
“We have absolutely no interest in escalation with Hamas in Gaza but we will not succumb to rocket terrorism,” said IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.
As the manhunt continued for the key suspects the Israeli government said were behind the kidnapping – Amer Abu Aysha, 33, and Marwan Kawasme, 29 – the IDF demolished part of Abu Aysha’s Hebron home, concerned he might be hiding inside with a firearm. As of Tuesday morning, both suspects were still at large, Ynet reported. This amateur video purported to show the detonation of the house:
Hamas has not taken responsibility for abducting the teenagers and voiced defiance at Israeli threats of retaliation.
“Any Israeli response will open the gates of hell,” said a Hamas spokesman, adding that Netanyahu’s threats did not scare the group.
Jerusalem Post Arab affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh reported that the wife of kidnapping suspect Marwan Kawasmeh said, “Allah will compensate us with palaces in Heaven.”
This follows a comment from the mother of Abu Aysha to Israel’s Channel 10 before the bodies were found stating that she would be proud of her son if he was behind the abduction.
“If he truly did it – I’ll be proud of him till my final day,” she said.
A Palestinian, Yosuf abu Zaghah, 20, was killed by Israeli troops in Jenin early Tuesday. According to the Associated Press, Abu Zaghah, a Hamas militant, was shot after he threw a grenade at IDF soldiers carrying out an arrest during a search for the teens’ kidnappers.
Israelis gathered outdoors overnight to light candles in town squares, comforting each other after the two week search for the boys turned up the worst news.
A group of about 30 Israelis set up tents in a disputed area of the West Bank just outside Jerusalem known as E1 Tuesday morning, stating they planned to construct a new settlement there in memory of the murdered boys.
Motti Yogev, a member of Knesset from the right-wing Jewish Home party voiced support for the group.
“New communities on Judea and Samaria strengthen the security. Banish the darkness by shining the light brighter,” Yogev told the Tazpit News Agency.
The bodies of the three students were found Monday afternoon, bound and partially buried under a pile of rocks in an open field near Hebron. They were abducted while hitchhiking home from school on June 12 just one week before the start of summer vacation.
Israeli media reported that the families of the three boys had decided to bury them side-by-side on Tuesday afternoon.