Israeli troops kill two Palestinian suspected of teens' murder

Israeli troops kill two Palestinian suspected of teens' murder

JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
Israeli troops kill two Palestinian suspected of teens murder

This undated file image released by the Israel Defense Forces shows a combination of three photos of Israeli teens Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, a 16-year-old with dual Israeli-American citizenship, who disappeared while hitchhiking home near the West Bank city of Hebron late at night on June 12. AP Photo

Israeli troops on Sept. 23 killed two Palestinians named as suspects in the June murder of three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank that sparked a deadly spiral of tit-for-tat violence.

The murders culminated in a 50-day, full-scale war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in Gaza that claimed more than 2,200 lives.

Amer Abu Eisha and Marwan Qawasmeh, whom Israel had accused of carrying out the kidnappings and murders, were killed "in an exchange of fire" in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, the army said.

The two men were in a house in Hebron and gunfire broke out during an arrest operation by the Shin Bet internal security services and the army's anti-terror unit, it indicated in a statement.

Residents told AFP they heard an exchange of fire during the assault, and that the army had also broken down the doors of several shops in the area.

Local youths threw stones at the soldiers near the scene of the raid, and following the shooting, a general strike was being observed across the city.

The suspects "no longer pose a threat to Israeli civilians," army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said on Twitter, posting pictures of the two men.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the operation, saying the suspects had been "dealt with."       

"I said that whoever perpetrated the kidnapping and murder of our boys would bear the consequences... that we would pursue the enemy, find them and not return until they had been dealt with," he said in a statement.

Rachel Frenkel, the mother of 16-year-old victim Naftali Frenkel, said she was relieved not to have to face the killers in court.

"I'm not all that sorry that I won't encounter their laughing faces in a courtroom," she told army radio.

The army had already partially destroyed the two men's homes on July 1, a day after the teenagers' bodies were found. The demolitions were completed in August.        

The June abduction of Frenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach from a hitchhiking stop near Hebron sparked a huge Israeli search operation in which hundreds of Palestinians were arrested and at least five killed.

Israel immediately blamed the kidnappings on Hamas militants. The revenge killing by Jewish extremists of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khder in July led to a surge in tensions that helped trigger the war in and around Gaza that ended on August 26.
Earlier this month, Israel charged the prime suspect in the teens' murders, Hossam Qawasmeh, with organising and financing the operation.