Israeli officials say they have found the bodies of three teens captured earlier this month.
Yeshiva students Gil-Ad Shaer,16, Eyal Yifrah, 19, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, were kidnapped late at night on June 12 from a hitchhiking point in Gush Etzion. Fraenkel is a dual Israeli-American citizen.
“All of Israel mourns with these brave families who will forever hold a special place in the collective hearts of our nation,” Deputy Minister of Defense Danny Danon said in a statement. “In their memories, we must ensure that this tragic end be turned into an opportunity to create a better and safer Israel.”
The Israeli government launched sweeping searches after the kidnappings, which inflamed relations between Israelis and Palestinians. Netanyahu accused Hamas of conducting the kidnappings and called on Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to renege on a deal with the group to form a unity government.
Earlier today, The Times of Israel reported clashes between the Israeli Defense Force and Palestinians in the village of Halhul in North Hebron. The New York Times reports the bodies were found buried in that area.
An unnamed Israeli official told the Times they won’t know for sure if the bodies belong to the three teens until they finish the autopsy.
In a statement, the IDF says the bodies are currently in the process of being forensically identified and that the families of the teens have been notified.
Correspondent Daniel Estrin tells our Newscast unit that authorities are still looking for two prime suspects.