The bodies of Naftali Frankel, 16, Gilad Shaer, 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, were found near Hebron, after an 18-day search following their abduction, according to several international news outlets. While an official announcement is still forthcoming from the Israeli government, the New York Times spoke with an Israeli official who said that “the three appeared to have been shot to death, likely ‘very close to the kidnap’ time.” The discovery of the bodies was also confirmed on the IDF’s Twitter feed.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is set to meet with his security cabinet within the hour, and local media is reporting troops massing outside Hebron. The Israeli government has previously blamed Hamas for the kidnapping, naming two suspects from the terrorist group–Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasme–who had disappeared from Hebron at the same time as the teens. At present, the perpetrators remain at large.
The region now waits for the reactions of both the Israeli government and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who previously intimated that he may dissolve his unity government with Hamas depending on the outcome of the search. The consequences of these murders will not only be felt in Israel, however, but also in America, as one of the teens, Naftali Frankel, was a U.S. citizen. At press time, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki did not have an official response to the news at the daily press briefing.