Wednesday, August 24, 2016

After finding settler boysí bodies, Israel demolishes houses, kills one Palestinian and calls for new settlement construction


July 02, 2014
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The funeral of 16-year-old Yousef Abu Zagha in Jenin.

The Israeli teens that went missing in the West Bank more than two weeks ago were found dead near the village Halhoul late Monday evening.

Eyal Yifrah, 19, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, and Gilad Shaar, 16, disappeared on June 12 as they were hitchhiking home from Kfar Etzion, a settlement between Bethlehem and Hebron. Israel’s search for the three teenagers has been the biggest military operation in the West Bank since the Second Intifada.

The Israeli cabinet held an emergency meeting on Monday night. On Tuesday morning, the military launched air 34 raids on the Gaza Strip after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that the Gaza-based Hamas group would pay for the settlers’ murders.

The raids came after 14 rockets were launched from the strip to southern Israel on Monday, according to the Israeli military. At least four more rockets were fired at Israel on Tuesday morning.

While Israel has placed full blame for the kidnapping and killing of the three teens on Hamas, the Islamist movement has denied any involvement in the kidnapping. No other Palestinian group has claimed responsibility either.

Although Israel has not provided evidence for Hamas’ accountability, the military has published the names of two primary suspects of the kidnapping: Marwan al-Qawasmeh, 29, and Amer Abu Eisha, 33. Israeli forces blew up with explosives their houses in northwest Hebron late Monday night, according to Ma’an News Agency.

Israel suspended the use of house demolitions as collective punishments in 2005. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, collective punishment of people living under occupation is a war crime.

Israeli soldiers shot to death 16-year-old Yousef Abu Zagha in the Jenin refugee camp early Tuesday morning during a military operation. A military spokeswoman said the teenager was a Hamas operative and about to throw a grenade at Israeli forces that had arrived to arrest him.

The killings of the Israeli teens have provoked calls for revenge from the country’s politicians. Israeli housing minister Uri Ariel demanded the targeted assassination of Hamas leaders and new settlement constructions, according to The Electronic Intifada. Economy minister Naftali Bennett claimed that now would be the time for action, as “murderers of children and those who direct them cannot be forgiven.”

Across Israeli social media, reactions have been even more furious, with numerous users of Twitter and Facebook calling for the death of all Arabs. 

Haaretz reported that there were several incidents of Israelis attacking Palestinians in the old city of Hebron. 

The murders of the teens were condemned internationally. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called them “a heinous act by enemies of piece.” US President Barack Obama offered his condolences to the boys’ families, while calling on both Israelis and Palestinians to refrain from escalating the situation. The Vatican called the crime an obstacle to peace. 

PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon proposed on Monday that Israel should increase settlement construction, including the creation of a new settlement in the memory of the teenagers. The plan, if passed, will allow for the construction of thousands of new housing units in illegal settlements across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. 

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