Naftali Frankel and Eyal Yifrach, 16, and Gilad Shaar, 19, were three Israeli boys found dead more than two weeks after being abducted on their way home from school in the West Bank in Israel. Since their abduction, the boys’ mothers were incredibly vocal about the return of their boys; Mrs. Frankel even addressed the U.N. to bring international attention to the issue. Now upon news of their death, those from Israel — and around the world — are looking for answers.
According to the Israeli military, the boys’ bodies were found on Monday afternoon in a field a few miles south of where they were last seen. The three boys were buried together on Thursday, and candlelight vigils honoring the boys lit up the sky in areas of the country. The discovery, which brought a tragic end to the search for the three boys, has laid further questions regarding Israel’s response.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly blamed the abductions and deaths on Hamas, the militant Islamist group. Upon hearing of the boys’ deaths, Netanyahu called an emergency meeting of summoned senior ministers to address further action. “They were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood,” he said. “Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay.”
Yet fault may not be so clearly placed on Hamas. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, an Egyptian group responsible for an alarmingly high number of bombings and attacks, came forward this week saying it killed the three boys. The claim, which was published on the Jihadist Media Platform, came the day after the group pledged allegiance to ISIS, the violent radical group which has conquered vast amounts of Syria and Iraq. Yet terrorist groups often make false claims, and many officials believe this could be a ploy to divert attention away from Hamas, with whom the Egyptian group has ties.
Nevertheless, Netanyahu ensures that the Israeli military will find those responsible for the boys’ deaths. “Whoever was involved in the kidnapping and the murder will bear the consequences,” he said. “We will neither rest nor slacken until we reach the last of them.” These actions are already well underway. More than hundreds of Hamas activists have been arrested; dozens of homes and institutions in Gaza have been destroyed, and the Israeli army has launched 34 strikes targeting terror infrastructure. While none of this can bring back the boys, many hope it will prevent future abductions. As Israel continues the investigation, many countries — including the United States — have voiced support against these horrific crimes.
– Nick Magnanti