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3 teens laid to rest, Israel mulls response
Published Tuesday 01/07/2014 (updated) 03/07/2014 11:42
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Tens of thousands Israelis attend the joint funeral of Gilad Shaer, 16,
Naftali Frenkel, 16, and Eyal Ifrach, 19, in the central Israeli town of
Modiin on July 1, 2014 (AFP Gil Cohen-Magen)
MODIIN, Israel (AFP) -- Israel on Tuesday paid an emotional farewell to three teenagers killed in the West Bank, while vowing to hunt down the Hamas militants it holds responsible for their kidnap and murder.

The disappearance of Gilad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel, both 16, and 19-year-old Eyal Ifrach, from a roadside in the southern West Bank on June 12 and the hunt for their kidnappers has gripped the Israeli public, triggering an outpouring of public grief and anger.

But the drama drew to a bitter end on Monday when troops uncovered three bodies in a field in the West Bank.

All three had been shot in a triple murder blamed on militants from Hamas.

Twenty-four hours later, tens of thousands of mourners from across the country packed into the cemetery in Modiin in central Israel to pay their last respects at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.

"I know the pain of mourning. There is nothing worse than that," said Netanyahu standing by the three coffins, each draped with a blue and white Israeli flag.

Israel has vowed it will exact a high price from Hamas for the murders, but at the funerals there were no calls for bloodshed or revenge.

"I managed to speak to you just before you set off home. I heard your peaceful and loving voice ... and now you've come home to us," said Ofir Shaer, addressing his son Gilad, his voice hoarse with emotion.

"Now Mum and I are facing the biggest challenge of our lives."

"Rest in peace, my son," said Naftali's mother Rachel Frankel, her voice cracking with emotion in a departure from the image of strength she had consistently projected in multiple public appearances since June 12.

National trauma

The story has received almost blanket coverage in Israel since the three students disappeared, with thousands of people turning out for a mass prayer session at the Western Wall in the Old City, and again in Tel Aviv on Sunday.

"This has become a spontaneous day of national mourning," Netanyahu said at the funeral, addressing a crowd that stretched as far as the eye could see.

The teens were likely shot dead soon after they were picked up, with their bodies buried in a field near Halhul, just 10 minutes from where they were last seen.

"We know how to settle accounts with Hamas. We will not rest until we lay our hands on them," Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said.

There has never been any credible claim of responsibility for the abductions, and Hamas has described Israel's accusations as "stupid."

PM to avoid escalation

Israel has vowed to hunt down the killers, and the security cabinet was to meet for a second night on Tuesday to discuss how to deal with Hamas, officials said.

Netanyahu was expected to give a brief statement at 1730 GMT at the start of the meeting at the defense ministry in Tel Aviv.

A string of hardline MPs and ministers have demanded Israel deal a crushing blow to Hamas, whose stronghold is in the Gaza Strip. But ministers are sharply at odds over the right course of action, army radio reported.

An Israeli official told AFP that Yaalon had suggested a "measured" military response, and Netanyahu was inclined to accept his position.

He also proposed turning a former West Bank army base into a new Jewish settlement in their memory, the official said, confirming a report by Haaretz newspaper.

Commentators said Netanyahu was unlikely to seek a major escalation.

"The prime minister is expected to refrain from an excessively fierce reaction because of (the Muslim holy month of) Ramadan and the fear of the reactions that a large-scale military operation might elicit," Yediot said.

Although Israeli warplanes pounded Gaza hitting 34 targets overnight, nobody was killed and only four people were hurt.

Hamas has warned any Israeli attack would "open the gates of hell."

Two Hamas men named by Israel as the prime suspects -- Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Eishe -- remain at large, although troops blew up their homes on Tuesday, witnesses said.

Since June 12, Israel has arrested 419 Palestinians arrested, two thirds of them Hamas members, and six Palestinians have been killed in clashes triggered by the operation.

Gaza militants have also fired dozens of rockets at southern Israel since June 12, prompting Israel to stage dozens of retaliatory air strikes which have so far killed three Palestinians.

Nine more rockets struck the south on Tuesday, the army said.
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1 ) Mel / USA
01/07/2014 22:47
I wonder if Israel wil blow up the homes of the incompetent Israeli POLICE who failed to respond to the cellphone(silent)call made by one of the boys&then their parents afterwards? If police has responded promptly,or EVEN not allowed the boys to continue hitchhiking in an"Israeli controlled" zone,maybe they be STILL ALIVE? Do those police houses get blown up,razed,destroyed TOO,then? Or is that quietly swept under the rug,for the(preplanned)march against Hamas?

2 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
01/07/2014 22:52
Hamas supporters hand out candies to celebrate the murders while their leaders praise the killings and call for more. Makes you wonder about the commenters here who call the Israelis "nazis" - maybe they are getting paid by some organization somewhere to write their comments....

3 ) Tobias / USA
01/07/2014 22:59
Probably, There will be No Direct Response, and Probably, There will be No End to Searching for both the murderers, of the 3 teenagers, and also all the would-be murderers associated with Hamas or other Islamic militants groups, until either all have been killed or imprisoned, so as to prevent such murders in the future !!

4 ) jootoo / UK
01/07/2014 23:10
Baruch Dayan Ha'emet,

5 ) Robert / US
02/07/2014 01:31
Any loss of life is sad , thats why I got involved in Mideast PEACE . Im heartbroken over the many years Palestinians have buried so , so many innocent souls. When I heard these 3 Israeli teens were dead, I cried for them and there families.. my post our out of LOVE. People we have to come together and get our so called leaders responsible for the situation that is going on .. LOVE IS THE ANSWER, IT ALWAYS WAS AND WILL BE GOOD FOR ALL.FOOD, CULTURE.of course im speaking to the people.

6 ) JoeFattal / USA
02/07/2014 01:41
No Palestinians are around to disturb their funeral, not like Israel does when Palestinians mourn their dead.

7 ) Tibi / Tubas
02/07/2014 03:54
Israel's response is obvious, where this month will be like last month, and every month in the future will be the same too, where Israeli forces will kick down 1,000s doors & arrest 100s of Palestinians every month, until the two murderers are found, and either shot resisting arrest or jailed, so that justice is finally served, no matter how long it takes !!!

8 ) Colin Wright / USA
02/07/2014 04:13
'3 teens laid to rest, Israel mulls response.' Someday, the headline will be '3 teens laid to rest, Palestine mulls response.' Of course, by then most of the Zionists will have left.

9 ) not ONE candy / distributed?
02/07/2014 04:21
strange!

10 ) Ramadan / USA
02/07/2014 04:32
It has been reported earlier that the zionists hitch hike in the West Bank by listening to the accent/language of the driver of the car which offers the lift. If it were a Hebrew speaker with an Arabic accent, they wouldn't get in. If it were Hamas et al then Hamas would have killed w/out kidnapping. The bodies lying on the road and claimed responsibility. Makes no sense to kidnap then kill immediately since the roads are always patrolled. Hamas don't have silencers. May Allah bless Palestine.

11 ) Julie / USA
02/07/2014 06:35
izrael's murders of EIGHT innocent Palestinians and their egregious war crime of collective punishment against all of them is utterly psychotic...and still NO PROOF, NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that hamas or any Palestinian was responsible for these ILLEGAL criminal settlers' deaths. mossad probably staged this whole thing. AND WHY ARE THE 2 'SUSPECTS' MISSING??? izrael probably murdered them too!!! izrael FAILED the teens by ignoring the emergency phone call for more than 8 hours!! nice SCANDAL!!

12 ) jootoo / UK
02/07/2014 08:50
Baruch Dayan Ha'emet,

13 ) Paul / U.S.A>
02/07/2014 22:38
Israel is a powerful nation.Does it ever occur to you that Palestinians when they are punished, humiliated ,jailed indeterminately,their homes demolished, their children murdered,maimed, their streets patrolled by armed men, their land confiscated,abused where they worship,,abused by settlers (invaders),,that the idea of"justice" becomes bereft of meaning?Are Israeli's the only people who feel pain?Do you want to settle accounts?..FREE THEM!The world is becoming wise to you. Shame on your vanity
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