In June 2014, three Israeli teens were murdered in the southern West Bank. Authorities believe Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaer, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, were abducted while hitching a ride home. Three weeks later, their bodies were found on in a field near Hebron.
The teens’ kidnapping and murder sparked outrage, as authorities suspected Hamas militants of planning and carrying out the crime. The incident eventually led to a devastating seven-week battle that left more than 2,200 dead.
In July, Mohammed Abu Khudair, a Palestinian teen, was abducted and burned to death in a suspected revenge attack. Although three Jewish assailants were arrested and charged with murder, the unrest continued.
Following Khudair’s death, tension between the Israeli police, Palestinians, and Hamas escalated into a bloody war. As reported by Reuters, the battle ended in August. However, the Palestinian Health Ministry estimates 2,100 Palestinians, 67 Israeli soldiers, and six civilians were killed in a period of seven weeks.
At the conclusion of the Gaza war, Hussam Kawasmeh, also known as Hossam al-Qawasmeh, was arrested and charged in the Israeli teen murders. Authorities believe Kawasmeh planned, ordered, and assisted in the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teens.
Although Kawasmeh admittedly supports Hamas, it is unclear what prompted him to commit the heinous crime. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal confirmed Kewasmeh is a member of Hamas. However, he said Hamas was not aware of or involved in the crime.
In stark contrast, Israeli authorities assert that following his arrest, Kewasmeh said the Israeli teen murders were ordered and funded by Hamas leaders.
On Tuesday, Ahrar Center for Human Rights director Fouad Khafsh announced that Kawasmeh was convicted in the deaths of all three teens.
“The Israeli military court in Ofer convicted Hossam al-Qawasmeh, a member of Hamas’ military wing, the Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades, Hossam Qawasmeh of killing the three Jewish settlers and sentenced him to life in jail thrice.”
As reported by World Bulletin, it is still unclear whether Kawasmeh was ordered to kill the teens or he committed the crime without Hamas ‘consent. However, the Israeli military court has determined that he is in fact responsible for the kidnapping and murder of all three Israeli teens.
Amar Abu Aysha and Marwan Qawasmeh are also suspected in the teens’ abduction and death, but they will not spend any time in prison. On September 23, both men were shot down and killed by Israeli forces.
Although Hamas leader Khaled Masha denied any involvement in the Israeli teen murders, he called Aysha and Qawasmeh “heroes.”
[Image via Haaretz]