Israeli missing teenagers funeral preparations underway

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to make Hamas pay for the killing of the three teenagers near the West Bank

Israel is preparing to bury the three teenagers who were kidnapped and killed while hitch-hiking near the West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blamed Hamas for the killing of the three teenagers- Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, a 16-year-old Israeli-American citizen- and will attend the joint funeral at Modein cemetery, near Tel Aviv

Overnight Israel launched more than 34 air strikes on the Gaza Strip with Mr Netanyahu vowing to make "Hamas pay" after the bodies were found. The strikes followed around 18 rocket attacks on southern Israel from Gaza since Sunday night, according to the Israeli military.

The teenagers disappeared on 12 June while hitchhiking home from the Jewish seminaries where they were studying near the West Bank.

 

In an operation codenamed Brother's Keeper, Israel dispatched thousands of troops across the West Bank in search of the youths. Their bodies were found on Monday under a pile of rocks in a field north of Hebron.

Reacting to Mr Netanyahu's words, Hamas warned Israel against any broad offensive on the territory, adding: "Threats don't scare Hamas, and if he (Netanyahu) wages a war on Gaza, the gates of hell will open on him."

Read more: Bodies of three teens 'abducted by Hamas' found by army in West Bank
Netanyahu accuses Hamas of kidnapping Israel's three missing boys
Israel searches West Bank for teens feared seized by Palestinian militants

In Washington, president Barack Obama sent his "deepest and heartfelt condolences" to the families. "As a father, I cannot imagine the indescribable pain that the parents of these teenage boys are experiencing," he said. Yet he urged "all parties" to refrain from steps that could further destabilise the situation.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon issued a similar condemnation of the "heinous crime", but also urged the sides to "refrain from any actions that could further escalate this highly tense situation"

Additional reporting PA

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