Ending a months-long search, the Israeli military says it has killed two Palestinian men with ties to Hamas who it believes were responsible for kidnapping and killing three Israeli teenagers early this summer. The abductions preceded nearly two months of violence between Israel and Hamas.
Acting on recently received information, soldiers from Israel’s special forces raided a building in the West Bank where the men had been hiding early this morning.
From Jerusalem, NPR’s Emily Harris reports:
“The two Palestinians had been indicted in Israeli court for picking up the three teens at a hitchhiking post in June and killing them the same day. The Israeli military had been searching the West Bank for them since then.
“An Israeli army spokesman says shortly before sunrise troops broke a wall of a house where the two men were hiding. The men came out shooting, the military says. Both were hit by Israeli fire.
“Another Palestinian man, charged with organizing the kidnapping of the Israeli teens, was arrested in July. His brother, believed to have helped get money for the operation, is living in the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli military.”
The two suspects who were killed, Amer Abu Aisheh and Marwan Qawasmeh, were reportedly both in their 30s. According to The Associated Press, Israeli army spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said the raid came after “a recent breakthrough in the search that led the Yamam, a special police counter- terrorism unit, to the hideout in an area of Hebron about a week ago.”
New anger and tensions between Israel and Hamas arose this summer, after the shocking June 12 murder of teenagers Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16. The situation deteriorated further in July, when Palestinian teenager Mohammad Abu Khdeir was kidnapped and reportedly burned alive. Israel has arrested several suspects in that case; they are awaiting trial.
Those killings spurred clashes between Israel and Hamas that killed more than 2,000 people, most of them Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, where the two sides sent rockets and airstrikes against one another. The fighting ended in late August, in a peace deal brokered by Egypt.