Officials: Israel finds bodies of kidnapped teens

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

Officials: Israel finds bodies of kidnapped teens
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis hold a poster showing the three missing Israeli teenagers, as they attend a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis hold a poster showing the three missing Israeli teenagers, as they attend a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis hold a poster showing the three missing Israeli teenagers, as they attend a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis hold a poster showing the three missing Israeli teenagers, as they attend a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis hold a poster showing the three missing Israeli teenagers, as they attend a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis hold a poster showing the three missing Israeli teenagers, as they attend a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis hold a poster showing the three missing Israeli teenagers, as they attend a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis hold posters during a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis hold a poster showing the three missing Israeli teenagers, as they attend a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis hold a poster showing the three missing Israeli teenagers, as they attend a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis hold posters during a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis hold flags during a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis hold posters during a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) An Israeli woman hugs Iris Yifrah (from the back), mother of kidnapped Israeli teenager Eyal Yifrah During a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis hold a poster showing the three missing Israeli teenagers, as they attend a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis hold a poster showing the three missing Israeli teenagers, as they attend a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis hold a poster showing the three missing Israeli teenagers, as they attend a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israeli women attend a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israeli women pray before a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis hold a poster showing the three missing Israeli teenagers, as they attend a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers stand next to their vehicles on June 30, 2014 in the village of Halhul, near the West Bank town of Hebron, where the bodies of the three missing Israeli teenagers were found. Israel confirmed finding the bodies of three teenagers who disappeared in the southern West Bank on June 12, blaming the Islamist Hamas movement for their kidnapping and murder. AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis hold a poster showing the three missing Israeli teenagers, as they attend a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
An Arab Israeli protester holds stones during clashes with Israeli securituy forces following a rally in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails and against Israeli army's operation to search for the three Israeli missing teenagers on June 27, 2017 in the northern Israeli town of Umm al-Faham. After the teens disappeared while hitchhiking in the West Bank, the army launched a vast hunt for them focusing on the Hebron area, detaining hundreds of Palestinians. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI (Photo credit should read AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images)
An Israeli policeman stands guard next police vehicles on June 30, 2014 in the village of Halhul, near the West Bank town of Hebron, where the bodies of the three missing Israeli teenagers were found. Israel confirmed finding the bodies of three teenagers who disappeared in the southern West Bank on June 12, blaming the Islamist Hamas movement for their kidnapping and murder. AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JUNE 29: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis hold a poster showing the three missing Israeli teenagers, as they attend a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers check a map at the start of a search operation in the West Bank city of Hebron on June 26, 2014, to try to locate the three teenagers the army believes were abducted by Islamist movement Hamas on June 12. Israeli Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas for condemning the alleged kidnapping of three teenagers by Hamas, but criticised his unity pact with the Islamist movement. Netanyahu spoke as Israel began to wind down a huge crackdown on Hamas, having arrested hundreds in an operation to find the youngsters who went missing in the southern West Bank nearly two weeks ago. AFP PHOTO/HAZEM BADER (Photo credit should read HAZEM BADER/AFP/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JUNE 25: Palestinians attend a solidarity demonstration held for Palestinians, living in West Bank and facing Israeli soldier's detentions and oppression during the search operations for Israeli missing teens, in Gaza City, Gaza on June 25, 2014. Carrying Palestinian and Hamas flags during the demonstration, people demand to stop Israeli oppression and detentions. (Photo by Ezz Zanoun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers take part in a search operation in the West Bank city of Hebron on June 26, 2014, to try to locate the three teenagers the army believes were abducted by Islamist movement Hamas on June 12. Israeli Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas for condemning the alleged kidnapping of three teenagers by Hamas, but criticised his unity pact with the Islamist movement. Netanyahu spoke as Israel began to wind down a huge crackdown on Hamas, having arrested hundreds in an operation to find the youngsters who went missing in the southern West Bank nearly two weeks ago. AFP PHOTO/HAZEM BADER (Photo credit should read HAZEM BADER/AFP/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


By Josef Federman

JERUSALEM (AP) -- The Israeli military found the bodies of three missing teenagers on Monday, just over two weeks after they were abducted in the West Bank, allegedly by Hamas militants. The grisly discovery culminated a feverish search that led to Israel's largest ground operation in the Palestinian territory in nearly a decade and raised fears of renewed fighting with Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was huddling with his Security Cabinet late Monday to discuss a response.

Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, a 16-year-old with dual Israeli-American citizenship, disappeared while hitchhiking home near the West Bank city of Hebron late at night on June 12 and were never heard from again. Despite the dangers, hitchhiking is common among Israelis traveling in and out of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

The Israeli military and the Shin Bet security agency announced late Monday that the bodies had been found. "The bodies are currently going through forensic identification. The families of the abducted teens have been notified," the army said. The Shin Bet said the bodies had been buried in a field near the village of Halhul, just north of Hebron.

Binyamin Proper, who was among the civilian volunteers that found the bodies, told Channel 2 TV that a member of the search party "saw something suspicious on the ground, plants that looked out of place, moved them and moved some rocks and then found the bodies. We realized it was them and we called the army."

Israel accused Hamas of being behind the abductions and launched a frantic manhunt throughout the West Bank, arresting nearly 400 Hamas operatives in the process. Last week, Israel identified two well-known Hamas operatives as the chief suspects. The two men remained on the run late Monday.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the kidnappings, and his forces coordinated closely with Israel during the search for the teens. But Netanyahu has called on Abbas to dissolve a unity government recently formed with the backing of Hamas, saying it is impossible to be committed to peace while simultaneously sitting together with a group that kidnaps Israelis. Abbas has so far refused the calls, saying his new government is committed to his political program. Hamas is not part of his government, but has lent its backing from the outside.

The search for the teens captured the nation's attention. The Israeli media delivered round-the-clock updates on the search, and the mothers of the three teens became high-profile figures as they campaigned for their sons' return. Israelis held daily prayer vigils, including mass gatherings attended by tens of thousands of people at the Western Wall, the holiest prayer site in Judaism, and in a downtown square in Tel Aviv.

Late Monday, dozens of Israeli forces moved into the village of Halhul. There were no further details on the operation.

In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, "We obviously condemn in the strongest possible terms violence that takes the lives of innocent civilians."

Read Full Story

People are Reading