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Hamas member killed by Israeli troops

01 July 2014, 11:24

Jerusalem - A Palestinian from the militant group Hamas was shot dead when he threw a grenade at forces carrying out a raid in the West Bank hours after the discovery of the bodies of three Israeli teenagers who were abducted over two weeks ago, Israel's military said on Tuesday.

Eyal Yifrah, aged 19, Gilad Shaar, aged 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, a 16-year-old with dual Israeli-American citizenship, went missing on 12 June while hitchhiking home. The teens' bodies were found on Monday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Hamas kidnapped the three and "will pay". Hamas, which has kidnapped Israelis in the past, has praised the abduction of the teenagers but not taken responsibility for it.

The man killed on Tuesday was the first casualty since the bodies were found.

A military spokesperson said aircraft struck 34 targets across the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip overnight after more than 20 rockets were fired into Israel since late on Sunday from the territory.

In an operation codenamed "Brother's Keeper", Israel dispatched thousands of troops across the West Bank in search of the youths, closed roads in the Hebron area and arrested some 400 Hamas operatives throughout the territory.

The search ended on Monday afternoon with the discovery of the bodies under a pile of rocks in a field north of Hebron.

Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon issued a statement on Tuesday vowing to find those behind the killings. "We see Hamas responsible for the kidnappings and murders. We will continue to pursue the murderers of the teens and will not rest until we lay our hands on them," he said.

Israel has said two well-known Hamas operatives from Hebron are the primary suspects. The men, Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisheh, have not been seen since the teens went missing, and military officials said the search for them would continue.

Israeli soldiers blew up a door of Abu Aisheh's home in Hebron early on Tuesday, causing damage to the home, but did not destroy the rest of the house, said an Israeli military official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to protocol. He did not elaborate.

Netanyahu met with top security officials late into the night on Monday to discuss how to respond but no decisions were made and officials are expected to resume deliberations on Tuesday.

- AP


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