World condemns killing of three Israeli teenagers

Jerusalem, July 1 (IANS) As bodies of the three missing Israeli teenagers were discovered by Israel’s security forces near the West Bank city of Hebron Monday evening, the killings evoked denouncement from different parts of the world.

In a statement, US President Barack Obama mourned the deaths of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Frankel, who also held American citizenship, Xinhua reported.

“As a father, I cannot imagine the indescribable pain that the parents of these teenage boys are experiencing,” Obama said. “The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this senseless act of terror against innocent youth.”

“As the Israeli people deal with this tragedy, they have the full support and friendship of the United States,” the US president added.

The bodies of the kidnapped Yifrach,19, Frankel,16, and Shaer, 16, were found in the Judean Hills in the West Bank, north of Hebron, between the Palestinian towns of Beit Ummar and Halhul. They were discovered in an area controlled by the Palestinian Authority, not far from where they were considered to be kidnapped.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement said there could be no justification for civilans’ deliberate killings, BBC reported.

“There can be no justification for the deliberate killing of civilians. This heinous act by enemies of peace aims to further entrench division and distrust and to widen the conflict. It must not be allowed to succeed.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “deeply saddened” by the killings, describing them as an “appalling and inexcusable act of terror perpetrated against young teenagers”.

Leader of the UK Labour party Ed Miliband tweeted: “The murder of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach is awful news. This was an utterly reprehensible act of terrorism.”

Dave Sharma, Australia’s ambassador to Israel tweeted: “Shocked, saddened & outraged at reports that bodies of 3 kidnapped boys have been found. Condemn their murder wholeheartedly.”

Following the bodies’ discovery, Israeli Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu presided over a cabinet meet late Monday.

Netanyahu said in the meeting that the teenagers were “kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by animals”. “Our hearts bleed, the entire nation is crying with them.”

“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.

Israeli leaders echoed Netanyahu and called for harsh crackdown on Hamas.

Netanyahu also criticised Arab-Israeli community leaders for failing to condemn the abduction of the teenagers, reported BBC citing Israel Radio.

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.

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