Why are young people kidnapped?
Israel: Kidnapped Israeli youths found dead
Israeli youths, who have been missing in the West Bank for more than two weeks, are dead. Their bodies were found under a pile of stones in a field near Hebron, Israeli television reported. Pupils from a nearby field school who had taken part in the large-scale search had become aware of the pile of stones under a bush.
The Israeli army confirmed that three bodies had been found northwest of Hebron. A forensic examination still has to confirm their identity beyond any doubt. The families of the three boys have already been informed.
Israel accuses the radical Islamic Palestinian organization Hamas of being behind their kidnapping. The youths were apparently shot shortly after the kidnapping, the report said. The hunt for the alleged kidnappers is still going on. The secret service has named two Hamas members as suspects.
Netanyahu: Hamas will pay
The Israeli radio reported that strong troop units were deployed north of the city of Hebron. There were exchanges of fire with Palestinians. There were also violent confrontations between the army and Palestinians in the area of the small town of Chalchul, it said. The city of Hebron has been cordoned off.
"Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay," said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the beginning of an emergency meeting of the security cabinet. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Suhri said in Gaza: "The occupying power (Israel) will be responsible for any escalation." Netanyahu wants to intimidate Hamas. However, he must understand "that if he declares war on Gaza, the gate to hell will open for him".
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has called for the investigators to cooperate. He hoped the Israeli and Palestinian authorities would work together to catch the perpetrators as soon as possible, Ban said. The murder is an insidious act by the enemies of peace and should deepen the conflict and heighten mistrust. "It mustn't be successful," said Ban. "There must be no justification for the targeted killing of civilians."
US President Barack Obama has strongly condemned the murder of the youth. Obama described the act as a "senseless act of terrorism against innocent young people" and expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the three teenagers. He also assured Israel and the Palestinians that the US would fully support them to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) also reacted "shocked" to the news of the death of the three young people. "It is a detestable act for which there can be no excuse," said Merkel in Berlin. Her condolences go out to the families and friends of the young people.
Right-wing Israeli MPs called for crackdown on Hamas. "This tragic end must also be the end of Hamas," said Danny Danon of the ruling Likud party. He called for a military operation and a "fatal blow" against the radical Islamic Palestinian organization. Also parliamentary speaker Juli Edelstein (Likud) said: "Israel must wage an uncompromising war on terror in general and specifically against Hamas."
Steinmeier calls for the peace talks to be resumed
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership for Tuesday. The Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that it should be about the effects of recent developments. The moderate Fatah of Abbas formed a unity government with Hamas in early June. Israel has asked him several times to break with Hamas.
Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) called on Israel to resume peace talks with the Palestinians. During a visit by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to Berlin, Steinmeier described the situation in the Middle East as "worrying". "I hope that the Middle East peace process is not over," said Steinmeier. There is no alternative to a solution at the negotiating table.
Since the youth disappeared on their way home on June 12, the Israeli army has reportedly arrested around 420 Palestinians, most of them Hamas members, during raids.
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