As the families of the three murdered Israeli teens—Naftali Frankel, 16, Gilad Shaer, 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19—bury their sons alongside thousands of mourners, memorials are being held throughout Israel and in the United States for the three slain teens. In the aftermath of the discovery of their bodies in a field near Hebron, details have emerged about exactly what happened in the short time between when the three hitchhiking teenagers were kidnapped June 12 and when they were shot to death. Israeli forces have struck back forcefully against Hamas, bombing dozens of Gaza sites and demolishing the homes of Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha, the missing Hamas operatives suspected in the murders, killing a Palestinian teen during an arrest raid in the West Bank.
World leaders, meanwhile, have roundly condemned the kidnapping and murders of the three Israeli teens. U.S. President Barack Obama released a statement yesterday denouncing the deaths—while also warning both Israeli and Palestinian forces to “refrain from steps that could further destabilize the situation.”
“As a father, I cannot imagine the indescribable pain that the parents of these teenage boys are experiencing. The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this senseless act of terror against innocent youth. From the outset, I have offered our full support to Israel and the Palestinian Authority to find the perpetrators of this crime and bring them to justice, and I encourage Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue working together in that effort. As the Israeli people deal with this tragedy, they have the full support and friendship of the United States.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron called the murders an “appalling and inexcusable act of terror perpetrated against young teenagers,” adding, “Tonight my thoughts and prayers are with the families of Gilad, Naftali and Eyal. No parent should have ever to suffer such heartache or grief.”
“The murder of innocent people is always and abominable and unacceptable crime, and an important obstacle in the way of peace, for which we must continue to work restlessly and for which we need to pray.”
Echoing Obama’s cautious words of warning, the Vatican’s statement added, “Violence only begets more violence and feeds the deadly circle of hate.”
Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.