The search for the three Israeli teenagers kidnapped more than two weeks ago has come to end: According to the Israeli government, civilian volunteers found the bodies of Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Shaar, both 16, and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrach in a field near Hebron, in the West Bank, not far from where they disappeared while hitchhiking home from school on June 12. It appears that they were shot.
Israeli forces have already killed five Palestinians and arrested more than 400 others as part of their efforts to find Fraenkel, Shaar, and Yifrach. Last Thursday, Israel named Hebron residents and “Hamas activists” Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha as prime suspects in the kidnappings, and Palestinians reported that one of their wives was questioned on Sunday, while the other man’s father was taken into custody. Meanwhile, in the last week, there has been an escalation in violence in the Gaza Strip, with the Israeli military responding to Palestinian rockets with air strikes.
Israel has blamed Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that currently rules the Gaza Strip, for the abductions. Hamas has denied responsibility for the kidnappings, though the organization has said that it approved of them. It’s not clear what Israel will do now that the teenagers have been, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it in a Monday night statement, “murdered in cold blood by wild beasts.” But the response is unlikely to be gentle: “Hamas is responsible,” Netanyahu insisted. “And Hamas will pay.”