Two of the remaining suspects in the murder of Israeli teens Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer, and Naftali Fraenkel were killed in a shoot-out with Israeli Defense Forces in the West Bank on Tuesday. Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha were finally cornered in their Hebron hideout after months of searching.
According to Israeli reports, the IDF’s counterterrorism unit surrounded the men in a carpentry shop, and they opened fire from the basement; the IDF retaliated. “At a certain stage, they came out and opened fire,” said Brigadier General Tamir Yadai. “One was killed on the spot, and one fell into a pit and I assume he was killed.”
One of the bodies was identified, while the army is still searching for the second.
The kidnapping of the three teenagers was one of the direct causes of this summer’s war in Gaza, which killed 72 Israelis and over 2,000 Palestinians. One of the key questions that emerged was the role the militant group Hamas played in the plot. Hussam Qawasmeh, the alleged mastermind of the plan, was indicted earlier this month, and indictment paperwork shows that the main link to Hamas was $60,000, obtained from a relative who works at a Hamas-run foundation.
Israeli forces found the two suspects just as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are set to resume long-term peace talks in Cairo, raising fears that the talks might be affected by post-operation rioting.
The most outspoken mother of the three murdered Israeli boys, though, said she was relieved at the outcome. “My kids are happy that the bad guys are gone,” she told the New York Times.