Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel, both aged 16, were found dead of bullet wounds Monday, June 30, in the Palestinian village of Kachil near Halhoul north of Hebron on the West Bank. They appeared to have been thrown into a field by their abductors after a hasty effort to conceal them.
Their parents were informed earlier of the discovery. The families have gone into deep mourning. The all-out search has switched urgently from Operation Brother’s Keeper to discover the boys to the hunt for their kidnappers.
The Israeli cabinet was summoned to an emergency session Monday night to determine how to respond to the tragic deaths.
The suspected abductors are two Hamas activists, missing from their homes at the same time as the boys’ disappearance. Thursday, June 26, the Shin bet security service named them as Marwan Qwasmeh and Amar Abu Aisha from Hebron. Both have done time in Israeli and Palestinian jails for terrorist actions
The three Israeli teenagers disappeared thumbing a lift home outside Gush Etzion in the Hebron district on July 10. They were believed kidnapped after two days. Investigators deduced that they had been murdered by their kidnappers after hearing the tape of a cellphone call one of the boys put into the emergency 101 emergency desk in Kiryat Arba.. He was heard whispering “I was kidnapped,” followed by an exchange of words in Arabic and gunshots. The cell phone was then abruptly switched off. The investigation could not establish whether all the boys were shot or one or more had survived.
The police officer who received the call treated it as just another prank and passed it on after several precious hours were lost. This week, the commissioner sacked a number of police officers serving in the Hebron District.
A burnt car found in another part of the district, the village of Dura, proved to have been the kidnap car. Cartridges of the bullets in the vehicle were the only tangible clues left by the kidnappers to the fate of the boys.
The teens’ mothers went to Geneva last week to address the UN Human Rights Council and direct a plea to the international community to help find their sons. Sunday night, tens of thousands of well wishers rallied in Rabin Square at the center of Tel Aviv in support of the boys’ families.