WASHINGTON, July 1, 2014 — Israel is holding a joint funeral today at 5:30 pm for Gil-Ad Shaer,16, Eyal Yifrah, 19, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, the three teenagers kidnapped and murdered in the Gaza Strip.
The boys bodies, wrapped in Israeli flags, will be buried in the Israeli city of Modiin.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres will attend the funeral and are expected to speak.
Memorial ceremonies for the boys will also take place at their homes.
The boys disappeared on June 12 while hitchhiking home in the Gaza Strip. Authorities found their bodies yesterday in a shallow grave in an open field in the West Bank village of Halhul.
Officials found the grave after intelligence suggested the kidnapping quickly went bad. One victim reportedly was able to send an emergency signal from his cell phone before it went dead.
Since their disappearance, Netanyahu has blamed radical Palestinian group Hamas for their kidnapping and vowed not only to find the boys, but to “punish” Hamas. “Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay,” he said.
The kidnapping and murder has outraged Israelis, as well as the international community, and sparked a crackdown on Hamas.
According to Haaretz, Netanyahu yesterday said, “[The teens] were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by animals. In the name of the whole of Israel, I ask to tell the dear families — to the mothers, the fathers, the grandmothers and the grandfathers, the brothers and sisters — our hearts are bleeding, the whole nation is crying with them.”
Since the kidnapping, Israel has arrested more than 450 Palestinians and raided more than 1,400 locations across the West Bank.
Earlier this month, the moderate Palestinian Fatah faction headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas formed a unity government with Hamas, which caused Israel to pull out of Mid-East peace talks. Israel considers Hamas a terrorist organization and refuses to negotiate with them.
Although Abbas has criticized the kidnappings and offered support in the search for the boys, he denies there is evidence linking the crime to Hamas.
Hamas, meanwhile, has praised the kidnappings but has not claimed responsibility. It has also accused Israel of using the murders as an excuse to launch an offensive against Hamas. Some members of Hamas have even accused Israel of staging the kidnappings to force a division between Fatah and Hamas.
The Israeli Security Cabinet will meet later today to continue to consider actions against Hamas.
Right-wing members of the Security Cabinet want harsh and immediate action against Hamas, while moderates warn that a strong strike could lead to more violence.
The public is also clamoring for a crack-down on Hamas and backs harsh action.
Netanyahu is likely to continue actions against Hamas and will almost certainly call for Fatah to renounce the alliance with Hamas. However, he is likely to stop short of a full assault on Hamas out of concern that a complete onslaught against the group would spark retaliatory violence and lead to a full war.