Jerusalem, July 1 (IANS) Israel Monday held Palestinian Islamist militant group of Hamas responsible for the killing of three missing Israeli teenagers, whose bodies were found in the West Bank Monday evening and drew worldwide condemnation.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Hamas for the teenagers’ killings, Xinhua reported citing a government statement.
“Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay,” he said in a statement to the press at the beginning of the urgent meet of his diplomatic-security cabinet, convened to discuss the recent developments and the possible courses of action.
Netanyahu said the teenagers were “kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by animals”.
“Our hearts bleed, the entire nation is crying with them,” he added.
Eyal Yifrach,19, Naftali Frankel,16, and Gilad Shaer,16, went missing June 12. Their bodies were discovered near Hebron city in the West Bank’s Judean Hills, The Jerusalem Post reported.
They were found in an area in the West Bank controlled by Palestinian Authority, Israel’s military confirmed. The area, where the bodies were found, is not far from where they were considered to be kidnapped.
The country’s political class echoed Netanyahu and called for harsh crackdown on Hamas.
President Shimon Peres said: “As we learn the bitter news, the people of Israel grieve the untimely death of our fine young men. With deep sorrow, we remain determined to fiercely punish the criminal terrorist.”
Meanwhile, Hamas, which has strongly denied any involvement in the abductions, has warned that any retaliatory attack by Israel will open “the gates of hell”.
Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri told Palestinian Al-Aqsa TV that Israel is using the deaths of the teenagers to “escalate the situation against our people and our resistance, and Hamas in particular”, BBC reported.
Meanwhile, the teenagers’ killings were condemned by the UN, the US, Britain, Australia, and France among others.