On Monday afternoon, an Israeli search party found the bodies of Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gil-ad Shaar in Halhul, north of Hebron. As security forces continue the search for the killers and strike at Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Israelis are mourning their loss. The Times of Israel provided live coverage of the Tuesday’s wrenching events, as the three teens were laid to rest.

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Palestinian killed in Jenin after throwing grenade at troops

Israeli troops continued their hunt for the prime suspects in the kidnappings and killings of three Israeli teenagers overnight Monday-Tuesday, sealing off the West Bank city of Hebron and the nearby village of Halhul.

Military sources said early Tuesday they believe the killers of the teens are still in the Hebron area.

The two Hamas men Israel believes carried out the kidnapping and killings, Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasme, have been missing from their homes in Hebron’s Hares neighborhood ever since the kidnapping took place. They were allegedly in the car in which the three were abducted.

The two were still at large Tuesday, and Israel’s security forces are making intensive efforts to track them down. Three Palestinians were arrested overnight Monday in the West Bank.

In Jenin, a Palestinian was shot dead after he threw a grenade at troops, a senior military official said Tuesday morning. The official said that the IDF had arrested 419 Palestinians since the onset of the operation, and that 57 of them had been released under the 2011 deal that saw abducted soldier Gilad Shalit freed. Soldiers had searched more than 2,200 sites, the official said.

Early Tuesday morning, the Israeli Air Force struck 34 targets in the Gaza Strip in response to ongoing rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave.

A senior military official said early Tuesday that Hamas bore “clear responsibility” for recent rocket fire emanating from the Gaza Strip. He said that he scope of the airstrikes on Gaza overnight were intended to “convey that message.”

Read our roundup of last night’s activity here.

Two rockets fired at southern Israel

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired two rockets at southern Israel Monday morning.

The rockets fell in open areas in the Hof Ashkelon region, south of the town of Sderot.

There were no initial reports of casualties or damage.

Israeli warplanes struck over 30 targets in Gaza overnight, after the bodies of the missing teens were found.

Israel holds Hamas, which rules the coastal territory, responsible for their killings and its two prime suspects are members of the Islamist organization.

Five rockets slam into southern Israel

Reports raise the number of rockets fired at southern Israel Tuesday morning to five.

One of the rockets causes a brush fire next to Sderot and firefighters are working to put it out.

Over the weekend, a fire caused by rockets fired from Gaza burned down a paint factory in the southern town.

Teens’ bodies positively identified

Pathologists at the Abu Kabir forensic institute in Tel Aviv complete the identification process of the bodies of the three teens.

EU condemns teens’ killings

The EU’s Foreign and Security Policy Service puts out a statement offering condolences to the families of the murdered Israeli teens and calling on all parties to try and prevent further escalation of hostilities.

“We learned with profound sorrow that the bodies of the three Israeli youths who were kidnapped on 12 June [sic],” reads the statement.

“We condemn in the strongest terms their killing. We express our sincere condolences to their families and friends and share their grief.”

“We trust the perpetrators of this barbaric act will swiftly be brought to justice,” the message continues. “We call for restraint of all parties concerned in order not to further aggravate the fragile situation on the ground.”

European Union message of condolence about the murder of three Israeli teenagers, June 31, 2014. (screen capture:Twitter/eu_eeas)

European Union message of condolence about the murder of three Israeli teenagers, June 31, 2014. (screen capture:Twitter/eu_eeas)

We won’t loosen our grip on Hamas, IDF says

As the IDF scours the Hebron area for the two suspected kidnappers, IDF spokesman Brig.-Gen. Moti Almoz tells Channel 10 the military will do everything in its power to strike Hamas.

“We don’t intend to loosen our grip on the Hamas movement, and we will use the entire military to hurt it,” he says.

Almoz says the boys’ death is a “difficult outcome,” but adds that “the second half” — tracking down the kidnappers, “dead or alive” — is “still ahead of us.”

Australia condemns teens’ killings

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says she is “deeply concerned by the deteriorating security situation in the Middle East.”

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, left, with FM Avigdor Liberman in Jerusalem, January 13, 2014 (photo credit: Yossi Zamir)

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, left, with FM Avigdor Liberman in Jerusalem, January 13, 2014 (photo credit: Yossi Zamir)

In a statement, the government in Canberra condemns the killing of the three teens and says the Palestinian Authority “must make every effort to apprehend those responsible for these crimes.”

Bishop calls on both sides to “refrain from any escalation of violence that would only serve to make the resolution of differences between Israel and Palestinians more difficult.”

– Raphael Ahren

Woman says she was kidnapped by Palestinians

An Israeli woman is claiming Palestinians attempted to kidnap her in the West Bank Monday, hours after the bodies of the three teens were found.

Police found her early this morning in an abandoned building in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem.

The woman, a gas station attendant, says she was forced into a car by two Palestinians after her shift was over Monday night and driven to the abandoned building.

She managed to place a call to police, who tracked her down using her phone’s signal.

Read the full story here.

French, Belgian FMs deeply condemn murders

On the heels of condemnations by other world leaders, the foreign ministers of France and Belgium express deep condolences and condemnation for the murders of the three Israeli students.

“Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders learned with horror and dismay about the death of three young Israelis who were abducted on 12 June. He expresses his condolences to the families of the children and to the Israeli people and authorities,” reads a statement from the Belgian foreign office.

“The perpetrators of this crime must be prosecuted and held accountable.”

Reynders also calls on the Palestinians to accept Israel and renounce violence in order to bring about a lasting peace.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (photo credit: AP/Jean-Christophe Bott,Pool)

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (photo credit: AP/Jean-Christophe Bott,Pool)

“Shocked and distressed” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, meanwhile, expresses his “horror and indignation” at the “heinous, cowardly and barbaric” crimes against the three students.

“While the French government has continued to demand the release of these three youths, I send their family and the Israeli people my deepest condolences and my total solidarity. I share their grief and sorrow at the cowardice of the killings.”

Defense minister vows to apprehend killers

“This is a painful hour for the Fraenkel, Shaar, and Yifrach families,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon says in a statement. “The heavy sorrow draped over them is draped over the entire nation. It is draped over parents, who coped in a way that aroused admiration and displayed a fortitude in the face of the missing boys, affording the IDF, the Shin Bet, and the Israel Police the strength to continue on with the search until its bitter end.”

After thanking the different arms of the defense establishment he adds, “We see Hamas as responsible for the kidnapping and the murder, and we will know how to settle the score with it. We will continue to pursue the murderers of the teens and we shall not rest or be still until we lay hands on them. And so it will be.”

– Mitch Ginsburg

17-year-old suspected of attacking Arab cab driver with tear gas

Police say they have taken in for questioning a 17-year-old boy who is suspected of attacking an Arab taxi driver with tear gas in Jerusalem’s Musrara neighborhood, which borders East Jerusalem.

The police suspect the attack may have been motivated by desire for revenge over the killing of the three Israeli teens.

Austrian FM: ‘Deepest sympathy goes out to families’

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz reacts to the killing of the three Israeli students, extending his country’s “deepest sympathy” to their families and friends.

Horror at teens’ deaths won’t prevent future exchanges

Haviv Rettig Gur offers a cogent analysis of Israel’s history of lopsided prisoner exchanges in light of the country’s unique ethical underpinnings:

Three boys are dead. Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel were abducted by a clumsy Hamas cell in the West Bank with instructions — generic urging, really — to replicate the “success” of the Gilad Shalit kidnapping that saw over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, many of them brutal terrorists with blood on their hands, released in exchange for the safe return of one Israeli soldier.

The full piece is here.

Slain students to be laid to rest at 5:30 p.m.

The three students who were found killed near Hebron will be laid to rest today at 5:30 p.m. at the Modiin cemetery.

Though all three will be buried side-by-side in the same cemetery at the same time, they will have separate funerals, the families said, in their respective communities to eulogize the boys.

Boston students hold candlelight vigil for boys

Just hours after learning about the horrific killings, students from the Boston area gather at Boston University’s Marsh Plaza for a candlelight vigil in memory of the teens.

Several student leaders give remarks about the slain boys, and participants sing Hebrew songs like “The Whole World is a Narrow Bridge” and “Peace Will Come.”

The vigil was planned by student leaders from Boston University and Brandeis University, with participation from Israel groups across the spectrum (CAMERA, ZOA, J-Street, etc.).

On Wednesday, the organized Boston Jewish community will hold a formal memorial service for the teens at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley, starting at 7 pm.

– Matt Lebovic

Boston area students gather at Boston University's March Plaza after hearing of the murders of the three kidnapped teens (photo credit: Elan Kawesch)

Boston area students gather at Boston University’s March Plaza after hearing of the murders of the three kidnapped teens (photo credit: Elan Kawesch)

A Boston area student holds up photos of the three Israeli students who were murdered in the West Bank (photo credit: Elan Kawesch)

A Boston area student holds up photos of the three Israeli students who were murdered in the West Bank (photo credit: Elan Kawesch)

Boston area students hold a candlelight vigil for the three Israeli students who were murdered in the West Bank (photo credit: Elan Kawesch)

Boston area students hold a candlelight vigil for the three Israeli students who were murdered in the West Bank (photo credit: Elan Kawesch)

Forensic analysis shows teen put up ‘significant fight’

The preliminary reports from the examination of the three bodies show that one of the teenagers put up a “significant fight,” sources present at the Abu Kabir forensic institute in Tel Aviv were quoted by the Walla news website as saying.

The identification process was completed around 3 a.m., but pathologists continue to analyze the bodies to determine when the youths were killed, and how.

The examinations are external, with the permission of the families, but no autopsy has been performed for Jewish religious considerations.

Merkel ‘shocked’ by killings

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she is “shocked” by news that the three Israeli students have been found dead.

“This is a despicable act that cannot be justified in any way,” she says, extending her condolences to the youths’ families and friends.

French president deplores killings, Gaza rocket fire

French President Francois Hollande condemns the “shocking” killings of the three Israeli teens in the West Bank, sending condolences to the victims’ families and urging that everything be done to prevent new victims and escalation of violence.

While he says he is “preoccupied” by the increase in violence in the West Bank, he also condemns the rocket fire toward Israel from Gaza.

South African Jews mourn Gilad, Eyal and Naftali

The South African Jewish community says it “mourns with the families of Gilad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel.”

“Since the boys’ abduction, South Africa’s Jewish community has added its voice to the worldwide prayers and appeals for their safe return. With the discovery of their bodies yesterday, these hopes were cruelly dashed, and a pall of sorrow has been cast over the Jewish world. This was an act of sheer evil carried out without pity,” the community says in a statement.

Memorial services for the teens will be held throughout South Africa.

British Jewish community mourns dead students ‘with great distress’

The British Jewish community mourns the three Israeli students who were found dead near Hebron “with great distress,” urging the Palestinian Authority to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“The thoughts and prayers of the Jewish community are with the families and friends of Gilad Sha’ar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel,” reads a statement by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

“Their murder by Palestinian terrorists is a despicable act which all civilised people will view with disgust.,” it adds.

“This is a tragic reminder of the very real security threats Israel’s civilians face and we call on the Palestinian Authority to use its full endeavors to ensure that the perpetrators of this shocking crime are brought to justice.”

French ambassador calls on Israel to show ‘restraint’

The French ambassador to Israel, Patrick Maisonnave, calls on Israel to show “restraint” as it mulls possible responses to the killing of Gilad Sha’ar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel in the West Bank amid the escalating violence in the area.

“I call for restraint against any form of vengeance,” says Maisonnave, adding that he has confidence in the State of Israel that justice will be done.

He also condemns “all forms of violence, even more so when the victims are children.”

Ya’alon turns down families’ request for military burial

Channel 2 reports that the families of kidnapped students Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel, who were found dead in the West Bank on Monday, requested that the boys be laid to rest in a military cemetery.

However, according to the report, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon turned down the families’ irregular request on the grounds that only soldiers can be buried in IDF cemeteries.

Arab Israeli teen pays tribute to victims

Mohammad Zoabi, an Arab Israeli teenager who was forced into police protection after posting a video calling on Israel to go after Hamas for the kidnapping, pays homage to the three victims on his Facebook page in three languages.

“I just heard the terrifying news,” he writes. “The three innocent Israelis were found dead. They were shot in cold blood by the terrorists who kidnapped them. I have nothing to say to express my anger [toward] the terrorists and those who support them! My condolences to the families of the three innocent teens. May they rest in peace.”

In June, police arrested three of Zoabi’s relatives for threatening him after he expressed solidarity with the three kidnapped youths.

Zoabi's Facebook page.

Zoabi’s Facebook page.

Shas pledges support for retaliation against perpetrators

Shas chairman Aryeh Deri pledges the party’s “full support” for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in any retaliation against the perpetrators of the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank.

Deri, who spoke to Netanyahu earlier today, says Shas will give the government “all the necessary backing” to bring the “despicable murderers and those affiliated with them” to justice.

He adds that Israel cannot ignore the “cold-blooded murder of children.”

Netanyahu to speak at cemetery

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will attend the burial of slain Israeli teens Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel, which will be held in Modiin at 5:30 p.m.

The prime minister will give an address at the cemetery as the three are laid to rest side by side.

Three different ministers will also attend the separate funerals of the three teens in their home towns. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon will attend Yifrach’s funeral in Elad, Finance Minister Yair Lapid will attend Fraenkel’s funeral in Nof Ayalon and Education Minister Shai Piron will attend Shaar’s funeral in Talmon.

Etzion Bloc residents to hold rally in teens’ memory

Hundreds of residents of the Etzion settlement bloc will hold a rally this afternoon in memory of the three teens who were kidnapped from a road in the area.

The rally will set out at 2:30 p.m. from the Gush Etzion Junction, following an address by Likud MK Ze’ev Elkin, who chairs the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

At 3 p.m., the group will recite psalms at the hitchhiking stop from which the teens were seized and hold a memorial ceremony at the Alon Shvut Junction before boarding buses to Modiin to attend the boys’ funeral.

A poster advertising the Etzion Bloc memorial rally.

A poster advertising the Etzion Bloc memorial rally.

Fatah calls slain teens ‘soldiers’

In its first reaction to the kidnapping ordeal that ended tragically yesterday with news of the three teens’ deaths, the Fatah movement described the victims as “soldiers” rather than students, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) says.

The movement, headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, posted on Facebook photos of grieving Israelis coupled with the caption: “Israelis crying over the three killed soldiers, whose bodies, according to Israeli claims, were found this evening in Hebron, 19 days after they disappeared.”

A post on the official Facebook page of the Hamas movement, describing the three teens slain in Hebron as 'soldiers.' (photo credit: Palestinian Media Watch)

A post on the official Facebook page of the Hamas movement, describing the three teens slain in Hebron as ‘soldiers.’ (photo credit: Palestinian Media Watch)

PMW adds that throughout the search for the teens and their captors, Fatah celebrated the kidnapping on its official Facebook page, even depicting the three as mice caught on the hooks of a fishing rod, with a caption that read “Masterstroke.”

Miri Regev urges PM, army to raze suspected kidnappers’ houses

On the heels of the High Court’s decision to approve the demolition of the house of the man who was indicted for killing off-duty policeman Baruch Mizrahi, MK Miri Regev (Likud) urges Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the IDF to demolish the homes of Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha, suspected of kidnapping and killing Gil-ad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel.

“I call on the prime minister and the IDF to immediately demolish the homes of the terrorists and their families, and those of all those who took part, directly or indirectly, in the heinous kidnapping and murder of the teens,” says Regev.

A poster of Amer Abu Aysha hangs on the door inside his family home in Hebron, in the West Bank, which was bombed by IDF overnight, July 1, 2014. (photo credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A poster of Amer Abu Aysha hangs on the door inside his family home in Hebron, in the West Bank, which was bombed by IDF overnight, July 1, 2014. (photo credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Drawing on her experience as a spokeswoman in the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, Regev says that though home demolitions are “painful” steps for terrorists’ families, they are also powerful deterrents, as they encourage the families to turn their relatives in — thereby preventing many attacks.

“We must resume using this important tool in our war against terror,” Regev says.

Arab MKs pan ‘terrible murder’ of Israeli teens, Palestinians

Israeli-Arab MKs of the Raam-Taal political party denounce both the deaths of the three Israeli teenagers and the IDF’s Palestinian casualties during the course of Operation Brother’s Keeper.

The Knesset members also call for the immediate reinstatement of the peace talks, appeal to Israel to release the fourth round of Palestinian prisoners, and condemn the calls within the government for military retaliation in response to the killing.

“We will continue to condemn every act of violence against innocent civilians from both nations, the Palestinian and Israeli,” the four MKs write in a joint statement. “Including the terrible murder of the three Jewish youths and the terrible murder of Palestinian children and youths shot by IDF soldiers… We understand the deep pain of the mothers of the slain youths, but no one should ignore and pain and agony of the Palestinian mother who lost her son as well.”

The restoration of peace talks, along with the freeing of Palestinian prisoners Israel had pledged to release prior to the suspension of negotiations in April, is the solution to the present crisis, they maintain.

“The time has come to understand that immediate peace negotiations can be the impetus to turn the tragedy of the two nations into a peace that will ensure the well-being of the young generations of Israelis and Palestinians.”

The statement also refers to unnamed ministers who have issued calls for an escalation, saying that they are “dancing on the blood of the victims and must be restrained.”

MK Hanin Zoabi of the Arab Balad party seen during a plenum session in the Knesset on April 29, 2013 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

MK Hanin Zoabi of the Arab Balad party seen during a plenum session in the Knesset on April 29, 2013 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli-Arab MK Hanin Zoabi of the Balad party writes on Facebook: “We don’t want murder, this is not our purpose, these are not our methods. But the responsibility for this heinous act lies with the terror of the occupation.”

She describes the present political climate as the “revenge of the oppressor who hasn’t been used to the disturbance of its peace. They demolish houses, while they sit in air-conditioned rooms discussing the best way to execute revenge. The occupation community with its reporters and analysts, its political officials, MKs, are discussing, analyzing, and exhausting themselves trying to figure out how we are going to avenge them.”

Zoabi came under fire earlier this month for saying the kidnappers were “not terrorists,” but rather “people who do not see any way of changing their situation and they have to resort to these measures until Israel sobers up.”

– Marissa Newman

US ambassador blasts ‘terrorist murder’ of teens

US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro joins US President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry in condemning “in sorrow and outrage” the “terrorist murder” of Gil-ad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel.

“Deepest condolences to their families. May their memories be a blessing,” the ambassador writes on Facebook.

Peres to eulogize slain teens at funeral

As his term in office nears its end, President Shimon Peres will attend the funeral of Gil-ad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel, which will be held today at 5:30 in Modiin, and eulogize the three teens “who were kidnapped 19 days ago and murdered in cold blood.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also scheduled to attend and speak at the funeral.

Settlers who protested killings leave E1 outpost

A group of settlers who set up camp last night on a hilltop in the controversial E1 corridor to protest the killing of Gil-ad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel agreed to evacuate the outpost this afternoon.

The settlers agreed to pack up their tents and leave the area after police, acting on the government’s orders, asked them to do so.

Jewish right-wing activists seen setting up tents and establishing an outpost on a hill in the controversial E1 area near Maale Adumim, in response to the murder of three young Jewish boys, Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Sha'ar and Naftali Fraenkel. (photo credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Jewish right-wing activists set up tents and establish an outpost on a hill in the controversial E1 area near Maale Adumim, in response to the deaths of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Sha’ar and Naftali Fraenkel. A poster on the hilltop reads ‘in your blood you shall live,’ a biblical quote from Ezekiel. (photo credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Education Ministry to boost psychological support for students

In the aftermath of the kidnapping and deaths of Israeli yeshiva students Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gil-ad Shaar at the hands of terrorists in the West Bank, the Education Ministry says it will provide educational and psychological support and counseling to students at the Mekor Haim yeshiva, where Fraenkel and Shaar were studying.

The ministry says it will reinforce the support and administrative services the yeshiva provides its students.

It will also open schools in Talmon, Nof Ayalon, Elad and other communities tied to the victims during the summer holidays, to provide students of all ages with emotional support. Teachers around the country have been instructed to do the same.

“The education system will continue to take responsibility and be a significant adult presence for the students. The kidnapping of the three youths touched an entire country, and naturally, children and teens felt a high degree of emotional investment,” the ministry says.

Elad, Talmon and Nof Ayalon bid farewell to slain teens

The communities of Elad, Talmon and Nof Ayalon pay their respects to Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gil-ad Shaar, who were killed by Palestinian terrorists after being kidnapped over two weeks ago.

In each of the communities, loved ones eulogize the teens.

In Sha’albim, Education Minister Shai Piron, there to pay his respects to Naftali Fraenkel, tells Channel 2 that the large number of people attending each of the separate funerals — set to converge into a central funeral in Modiin at 5:30 p.m. this afternoon where all three will be laid to rest — reflects the solidarity Israeli society feels with the three victims.

“Our hearts are torn, wounded,” says Piron gravely. “They are the children of all of us.”

Key clues: Glasses, sandal, and phylacteries

The central clues that ultimately led to the discovery of the three teenagers’ bodies were a pair of smashed glasses, a sandal, and a set of phylacteries, the New York Times reported.

The phylacteries were discovered by the IDF in the torched Hyundai i35 in which the three were thought to have hitchhiked a ride on June 12, hours after the abduction. DNA samples drawn from the car matched those of the slain students’ parents. The vehicle was reported stolen a month earlier in central Israel, and was likely abandoned in the hours following the kidnapping.

The sandal was recovered on Thursday, and a pair of smashed eyeglasses belonging to Eyal Yifrach was found in a field near Hebron early Sunday morning. The owner of the eyeglasses store in Elad, Yifrach’s hometown, said police approached him immediately after it was discovered. “I answered that this is a frame that I sell. The next day police came back again with fragments of the lenses; the prescription matched the prescription we prepared for Eyal,” he said, according to the Haaretz newspaper.

Lapid: Unity is the greatest revenge on killers

Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who is attending the funeral of slain yeshiva student Gil-ad Shaar in Talmon, says unity is the greatest revenge Israelis can have on the killers of Shaar and his two companions, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach, who were found dead north of Hebron yesterday.

“If we would punish our enemies, we have no greater punishment than them looking at us and seeing that there is nothing that can separate us,” Lapid said. “We will find the murderers and punish them, but the real revenge is the ability to bridge our differences.”

He adds that Shaar, like his companions, “could have been the child of any one of us, and therefore he is the child of all of us.”

Urging Israelis to find a “common language” rather than resorting to anger, hatred, division and competition, Lapid points out that none of the victims were soldiers who died “in the endless battle for this land.” Rather, they were all children.

He poignantly adds, “Burying a child is an unnatural act. Parents aren’t meant to bury their children. Grandparents aren’t meant to shed tears over their grandchildren’s graves.”

“When we bury adults, we bury memories,” Lapid says. “When we bury a child, we bury the life he’ll never have — we bury a wedding, the first cry of a baby, an entire Sabbath table that will never come to be.”

Eyal Yifrach’s grandfather: He died a hero

The grandfather of Eyal Yifrach says he is convinced his grandson “died a hero.”

In his eulogy for Yifrach at his funeral in Elad, also attended by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, his grandfather says he is certain the 19-year-old gave his kidnappers “everything he had” and struggled with them “with all his might” to try to escape.

“He didn’t go like a lamb to the slaughter,” the elderly man says with conviction and pride, adding that all three youths had “glorified the name of God.”

“You united Israel for the first time in many years,” he says.

Ya’alon at funeral: Teens killed ‘just because they were Jews’

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon vows the Israeli security forces “will not rest” until the operatives behind the deaths of the teenagers are brought to justice. Speaking at the funeral for Eyal Yifrach, 19, in Elad, the defense minister says the teenagers “were kidnapped and murdered just because they were Jews.”

“The grief and agony that envelops you since receiving the bitter news, envelops the entire country,” he says, after the recitation of a Natan Alterman poem.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon delivering a eulogy to Eyal Yifrach in Elad Tuesday. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon delivering a eulogy to Eyal Yifrach in Elad Tuesday. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

“In the past three weeks that have passed since the kidnapping of Eyal, Gil-ad, and Naftali, we discovered daily a bit more about their unique personalities: Their warm and loving connection to their families, their hobbies that were their trademark among the families and friends, all the small things that remind us, at the end of the day, that they were youngsters at the beginning of their lives, which was cut short.”

The defense minister addresses the Yifrach family directly, saying “these are the hours when the personal grief is in the public domain.”

Ya’alon says he had the “privilege” of meeting the Yifrach family during these tumultuous, difficult times, who embody “all that is good and noble,” and are “a symbol for us all.”

Ask God to give us strength, says Yifrach’s father

Uri Yifrach eulogizes his son Eyal at his funeral in Elad.

Overcome with emotion, body swaying back and forth as if in prayer, Yifrach laments the loss of a youth who had a “special love” for other people “no matter where,” a youth who always agreed to help others.

“They miss you,” Yifrach says of his slain son’s friends and family. “They want you near them, to come and hug them, to hug mom. Mom said you are right next to God now. She said you should whisper in God’s ear and ask him to give her strength, to give us all strength. It will be difficult for us without you. We need strength … you gave strength to so many people, now give us strength as well.”

Emotional, Shaar’s sister says brother was ‘destined to be a hero’

At the funeral of slain yeshiva student Gil-ad Shaar in Talmon, his sister Shirel needs a few minutes to calm herself before she can eulogize her only brother, whose body was found buried in a shallow grave near Hebron yesterday.

“I don’t even know how he felt or what he thought as he fought for his life,” she says.

Emotionally, she recalls the last time she saw her brother, at their grandmother’s house. Just before she left the house, something told her she should give him a hug, she says.

“We’ve been through something huge these past two weeks,” she says. “Everyone has brothers and sisters. Do something — be good siblings. I always worried about Gil-ad. There, God, you’ve lifted one of my worries now. I know he’s safe by your side.”

To her brother, she says, “You are joining a long list of heroes of Israel, not by choice, but by destiny. I hope you will be the last ones on the list. Forever, Gil-ad. I will remember you forever.”

Shaar’s father, mother pay respects to only son

The parents of Gil-ad Shaar pay respects to their son, one of seven children, at his funeral in Talmon.

His father speaks tearfully, with some difficulty.

“The murderous kidnappers thought they would weaken us, but we won’t be weakened,” he says. “I ask for your forgiveness. Forgive me, my beloved son, if I ever erred or hurt you.”

Addressing both his son and the two companions with whom he died, he says, “I believe many generations will grow up hearing of you, will tell your life story and will be shocked at your deaths.”

His mother, Bat-Galim, is more collected than her husband, but still visibly emotional as she describes her son as “a brave, resourceful, proud Jewish boy.” She says he has always been mature, taking on responsibility at school, in his youth group and among his friends.

“You can be proud of your brother,” she tells his sisters.

“Now we must give back the deposit, Gil-ad,” she says. She adds that the teen’s life was “so short that he didn’t have time, we didn’t have time…,” and trails off.

Education minister: We will continue to ‘eradicate the evil’

“Naftali, we will not rest until we punish your murderers and their accomplices,” Education Minister Shai Piron says at the funeral of Naftali Fraenkel, 16.

“We will continue your mission to eradicate the evil from this world. The many memorial candles that burned last night and today will light up the darkness, will banish the hatred, burn out the corruption, add more light on top of the light” you brought into the world, he says.

“Were our prayers not helpful?” he says.

“Our prayers worked. It changed [things]. It changed us. All of us. It showed us that we share a deep unity.”

“We tend to talk about the differences and the divisive, on the unity, on the separation… until the moments of truth come along.”

Piron turns to students present at the funeral, as well as those around the country, and urges them to be strong.

“The word ‘life’ is in plural because it includes the bad and the good. Life is a combination of pain and joy. Don’t lose your faith in life. The photographs of your friends will continue to accompany you and us, it will accompany us as a source of inspiration for a meaningful life.”

We still thank you for bringing boys home, Rachelle Fraenkel says

Rachelle Fraenkel, the mother of slain 16-year-old yeshiva student Naftali Fraenkel, takes the microphone as she bids farewell to her son at his funeral in Shaalabim, near the family’s home in Nof Ayalon.

“Rest in peace, my son. We’ll learn to sing without you. We’ll always hear your voice inside,” she says.

She also thanks the Israeli security forces who found her son’s body after more than two weeks of painful uncertainty.

“Dear soldiers, intelligence personnel and police, we still thank you very, very much. You promised you would find and bring them back. And you brought them back. That is a great kindness, too,” she says.

“From the very first day, we said to ourselves that even if it ends badly, God gave us an abundance of blessings, wonderful young men, children with noble souls, a large and empowering community.”

Ofir Shaar praises son’s ‘brave whisper’ in call to police

Ofir Shaar, the father of Gil-ad Shaar, says at his son’s funeral that he recognized his son’s “brave whisper” in the recording of the call one of the three kidnapped youths had made to the police, to alert the authorities that they had been abducted.

In the moments following the abduction, one of the kidnapped teenagers had called an emergency police hotline and whispered, “I’ve been kidnapped.” The call was then cut off, and after trying unsuccessfully to call the number back several times, they concluded it must have been a prank.

In his eulogy this afternoon, Shaar says that when he heard the recording, he immediately recognized his son’s voice.

“From the moment I heard your brave whisper, I heard a great voice and stood taller. What initiative, courage and strength on the part of someone who had yet to celebrate his 17th birthday,” he says.

Israeli media reported today that shots could be heard at the end of the phone call, which was played to the parents of the three students by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon following their abduction.

Shaar adds, “My prayer shawl is orphaned. It envelopes your untarnished body before you are buried in the soil of the Israel you so loved. You are part of the family of Israel. Your final message and your ascension to heaven brought down walls and unified an entire nation.”

Senior PLO official slams Israel for ‘war crimes’

At the same time as Israel buries the three slain teenagers in tearful ceremonies, senior Palestine Liberation Organization official Hanan Ashrawi slams the Israeli government for “war crimes at the expense of the Palestinian people” and casts doubt on Jerusalem’s assertion that Palestinian terrorists were behind the murders.

“No one condones the killing of innocent people of any nationality. Yet, collective punitive measures are unacceptable, and the Israeli government cannot continue to pass judgment without evidence and commit grave breaches of international law and war crimes at the expense of the Palestinian people,” she says during a meeting with British Secretary of State for the Home Department Theresa May and London’s Consul-General in Jerusalem, Alastair McPhail, in Ramallah.

Hundreds protest gov’t response, block roads in capital

Hundreds of people are blocking traffic at the Bridge of Strings in Jerusalem in protest of the government’s response to the killing of Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16.

Police are at the scene.

The demonstration is led by right-wing activists Michael Ben-Ari, Baruch Marzel, and Itamar Ben Gvir, who are calling on the Knesset for a strong military retaliation to the killing, the NRG news website reported.

Liberman calls for ‘Defensive Shield II’ in Gaza

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman calls for an operation to eradicate the threat of rocket attacks in Gaza, saying another Operation Defensive Shield is necessary — this time in Gaza.

Operation Defensive Shield was a military operation took place in 2002, at the height of the Second Intifada, as part of the IDF’s efforts to decrease terrorist attacks originating in the West Bank.

Today, Liberman says in a statement that Israel “mustn’t bury its head in the hand,” drawing a link between the murder of three Israeli students in the West Bank and the upsurge in rocket attacks on southern Israel.

The cause of both, he says, was Hamas’s efforts to “take over the Palestinian Authority and the West Bank following the establishment of a Palestinian unity government.”

“Hamas was and remains a terrorist organization,” says Liberman, “and its murderous activities are at the heart of all its operations. Therefore, it must be prevented from taking over the area through a thorough and determined military operation, similar to Operation Defensive Shield over a decade ago, by damaging its infrastructure, capabilities and executive arm.”

B’Tselem ‘strongly condemns’ killing

The human rights group B’Tselem issues a statement denouncing the killing, which it says “undermines all moral, legal and human principles.”

“B’Tselem strongly condemns the abduction and killing of the three yeshiva students, Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach, and offers its condolences to the families. Deliberate targeting of civilians undermines all moral, legal and human principles. The deliberate killing of civilians is defined as a grave breach of international humanitarian law, and cannot be justified, regardless of the circumstances,” it said.

Traffic backed up en route to Modiin cemetery

Traffic between Nof Ayalon, the Fraenkels’ hometown, and the cemetery in Modiin is backed up for an hour as thousands make their way to the joint funeral, a Times of Israel journalist says.

Police have recommended those coming to pay their respects take the organized shuttles, but the buses are said to be full.

Alleged recording of teen’s police call leaked

A recording claiming to capture Gil-ad Shaar’s call to the police emergency hotline on June 12 has been circulating via WhatsApp and was posted on YouTube a number of times. A least one of the YouTube videos was subsequently removed.

There is no confirmation the recording is authentic.

Gil-ad’s father said earlier today during his eulogy that he recognized the voice of his son on a recording made to police around 10:25 p.m., shortly after the abduction, saying “I’ve been kidnapped,” but police dismissed the cry for help as a prank and took time in responding.

Four senior police officers were laid off for mishandling the incident following an committee investigation.

Tens of thousands stream into Modiin cemetery

Tens of thousands of Israelis pour into the Modiin cemetery as the joint funeral is set to begin.

The ceremony will begin with the afternoon prayers, followed by the traditional recitation of the Kaddish prayer and tearing of garments by the three fathers. Rabbi Dov Zinger, the head of the Mekor Haim yeshiva, where Shaar and Fraenkel went to school, will offer the first eulogy.

After him, Chief Rabbi David Lau will address the mourners, followed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.

Listen: Recording of student’s call to police

“They’ve kidnapped me,” whispers the teen to the operator, as the kidnappers can be heard in the background shouting at the three youths to keep their heads down.

The operator tries to interact with the caller, but receives no answer. The 49-second recording continues with largely unintelligible background noise. The call itself lasted for 2:09 minutes and was then cut off, according to reports.

It is still unclear who placed the call, but the father of Gil-ad Shaar claimed it was his son.

The kidnappers, apparently realizing that a call had been made, shot the three teens dead at that point in the backseat of the car, military sources said.

Army Radio reported Tuesday that the three were shot during the phone call. It said blood and a bullet case were found in the car, as well as some of the killers’ personal effects.

– Lazar Berman

2 arrested at Jerusalem rally for assaulting police

Two people were arrested for assaulting police officers during a demonstration in Jerusalem to protest the government’s response to the killing.

Several other protesters attacked Arab store owners in the Mahane Yehuda market, the Walla news website reported.

Hundreds of people continue to block traffic at the Bridge of Strings in Jerusalem.

Bodies arrive at Modiin cemetery

The bodies of Gil-ad, Naftali, and Eyal arrive at the cemetery in Modiin, where tens of thousands gather to pay their last respects to the three teenagers, and countless others continue to trickle in.

Vans containing the bodies are making their way slowly through the crowds.

The funeral, which was set to start at 5:30 p.m., was delayed due to heavy traffic.

The ceremony is expected to begin shortly.

The Netanyahus console Naftali Fraenkel’s parents

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen at the funeral alongside his wife, Sara, speaking to Rachelle and Avraham Fraenkel.

Iris Yifrach, Rachelle Fraenkel, and Bat-Galim Shaar embrace ahead of the proceedings.

Bodies, covered in flags, laid on stage

The bodies, wrapped in Israeli flags, are laid out on the stage before the enormous crowd.

Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef reads the traditional liturgy.

Fathers recite Kaddish prayer

The three fathers recite the Kaddish prayer in unison.

Teens’ rabbi at funeral: ‘We saw your goodness’

The dean of the Mekor Haim yeshiva, Rabbi Dov Zinger, offers the first eulogy for his late students, Gil-ad and Naftali.

We saw your faces in the past few days, plastered on signs “from Brazil to Rabin Square,” he says, “in the entire world, we saw your goodness.”

Gil-ad and Naftali sat together in school in the third column, second row, he says. And they will be missed.

Rabbi Dov Zinger, head of the Mekor Haim yeshiva, delivering a eulogy next to the flag-draped bodies of Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach at their funeral Tuesday. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

Rabbi Dov Zinger, head of the Mekor Haim yeshiva, delivering a eulogy next to the flag-draped bodies of Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach at their funeral Tuesday. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

“Three boys at the beginning of their lives, what can be said?” he adds. Words — “how meager they are.”

Zinger calls for increased prayer, in which the “brokenness will transform into repentance,” he says, and appeals to the crowd to accept “love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Looking out at the crowd, he points to the unity in the nation: “Two Jews, three opinions, but one heart,” he says.

Netanyahu: We were impressed by the boys’ gentleness,’ ‘integrity’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the families by name, and the “entire nation that mourns alongside you.”

Although we did not merit to meet the boys, they were “engraved in our hearts,” with “their gentleness” and “integrity.”

PM: Today has turned into a national mourning day

“The whole nation saw the nobleness of spirit, the internal strength of the parents, the mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, grandparents, and the rest of the family. And the nation understood immediately, the depth of the roots and your strength of spirit. ”

The PM says that while the enemy sanctifies death, we sanctify life.

Netanyahu praises mothers for unwavering stregnth

Netanyahu turns to the mothers directly, says, “You taught a lesson to the entire world: what the cry of a mother is.”

He thanks the nation for its continued emotional support, and the troops for their efforts.

“I’d like to thank all the volunteers and security services for the nonstop efforts to find the boys,” he says.

PM: There is nothing worse than the pain of bereavement

Netanyahu continues, “Even the strongest embrace of the nation cannot erase the sorrow, the awful pain that will remain in your hearts long after the official mourning days are over. I know the pain of bereavement, there is nothing worse.

“But I know life has its own power, as a flowing river that drags us forward, and gives us strength of renewal and hope.”

“We will always remember Eyal, Gil-ad and Naftali, the pure — the pure ones who will remain forever young,” he concludes.

Peres: Teens ‘revealed the depths of our people’

“These three wonderful boys revealed the depths of our people,” President Shimon Peres says at the funeral, praising the parents for setting an example and for instilling the love of the land, self-sacrifice, and the love of creation in their sons.

“Dear mothers, you all unified a nation and educated a generation.”

Peres: Terrorism is a ‘defect’

The Israeli president adds that “the mourning has become a source of light and hope for the entire nation.”

“To those who rejoice in our pain we say: Terrorism is a defect which targets us but hurts those who perpetrated it,” he says.

Chief rabbi: The past 18 days have ‘brought us closer’

Speaking after Zinger, the Ashkenazi chief rabbi says the search for the youths has unified the nation of Israel.

“God tells us, there are things we cannot understand,” Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau says. “I wanted to bring you closer to me, says God. And the [past eighteen days] have brought us closer. Closer to the heart, closer to the people, closer to unity among the people of Israel.”

“We have prayed for days and saw what a nation we have. No one can hurt this nation because it is special.”

“Rest in peace, our brothers, our martyrs, in the soil of the land so close to your heart,” he says.

UN special envoy: Killers ‘must be brought to justice’

Richard Serry, UN special envoy to the Middle East, says the killers “must be brought to justice.”

“Upon my return yesterday night to Jerusalem, I learned about the horrible fate of the three abducted Israeli students, whose murder was strongly condemned by the United Nations secretary-general,” he writes in a statement.

“The perpetrators must be brought to justice, as any association with or support for terror or violence must be rejected and will have consequences for those concerned.”

Serry adds that he remains “deeply troubled” by remarks made by Hamas officials commending the abduction.

“I call on all sides to avoid steps that can further exacerbate an already tense atmosphere,” he concludes.

Rocket barrage targets southern Israel

As funeral procession continues in Modiin, five rockets are fired from Gaza, and two of them land in the Eshkol region in southern Israel, according to the IDF.

The projectiles fall in open areas, with no injuries reported.

Protesters, police clash in Jerusalem; 28 arrested

The right-wing demonstrations in the capital heat up, with police and protesters clashing and some 28 activists arrested, according to the Ynet news site.

The demonstrators call out “Death to the Arabs” and “No Arabs, no terror attacks,” and decry the lack of a government military response.

The march, which began at the Bridge of Strings at the entrance to the city and continued along Jaffa Road, blocked traffic and briefly brought the city’s light rail to a halt.

The trains have since resumed, but additional traffic disruptions are expected to continue until the protest is dispersed.

Yachimovich: My voice on abduction tape is ‘surreal’

Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich, whose voice can be heard on the radio in the background of the abducted teenager’s June 12 telephone call to police, says knowing that her interview was playing as the boys were kidnapped is “surreal.”

“I can’t get rid of thoughts on the surreal discrepancy between the calm interview conducted in my garden, so as not to bother my children and their friends who were at home, and what was happening precisely in those minutes to three other children, younger than mine,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

Yachimovich praises Gil-ad Shaar for his bravery in placing the call, and strongly criticizes police for their “infuriating negligence.”

After bodies discovered, Hebron quiets down

The IDF redeploys to the outskirts of Hebron on Tuesday, leaving behind an unusually quiet city, in light of recent events.

Residents flock to the bombed-out home of suspected kidnapper Amer Abu Aysha, and local activists examine loose wires apparently related to the explosion.

Elhanan Miller will bring us the full story later tonight.

Hebron residents in the home of suspected kidnapper Amer Abu Eysha. IDF soldiers entered the home late Monday night and detonated Amer's apartment in the second floor of the family house. Local activist Murad Amer holds up the detonating wire used by the IDF. Hebron was quiet on Tuesday, after the Israeli soldiers left the city and redeployed on its outskirts. (photo credit: Elhanan Miller / Times of Israel)

Hebron residents in the home of suspected kidnapper Amer Abu Eysha. IDF soldiers entered the home late Monday night and detonated Amer’s apartment in the second floor of the family house. Local activist Murad Amer holds up the detonating wire used by the IDF. (photo credit: Elhanan Miller / Times of Israel)

Gil-ad, Naftali, Eyal laid to rest

Gil-ad, Naftali, and Eyal are buried in the Modiin cemetery, bringing the funeral to its official close.

Thousands of mourners remain on the site nonetheless, singing and reciting Psalms.

Another rocket shot at southern Israel

A projectile is fired from the Gaza Strip, bringing the number of rockets targeting southern Israel in the past hour to six.

A red alert siren sounds in Shaar HaNegev region, but security forces have not yet located where the rocket landed.

Report: Abductors did not intend to snatch 3 people

According to Channel 2, the killers did not originally plan to kidnap three people and were likely caught off guard as Gil-ad, Naftali, and Eyal piled into their vehicle at the West Bank hitchhiking post.

The teenagers were likely shot right away, and in contrast to earlier reports, the students did not put up a fight, Channel 2 says

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses public

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking before a security cabinet meeting, says Israel is determined to dismantle the Hamas infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza.

“We have three missions before us. First, to get to the murderers and everyone who participated in the kidnapping; we have already arrested hundreds of Hamas operatives,” he says.

The prime minister adds that the IDF also aims to substantially weaken Hamas in the West Bank, and, third, to operate against the group in the Gaza Strip.

“Over the past few days, the IDF has struck Hamas targets in Gaza.”

Hamas is “directly responsible for rocket and mortar fire into our territory,” he says.

Netanyahu declares that operations against Hamas will expand as necessary.

Ya’alon: We will hunt terrorists

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon says Israel will “hunt the terrorists until they are tracked.”

Ya’alon adds that the arresting of Hamas members throughout the West Bank kept kidnappers from claiming responsibility and making demands.

The defense minister says Israel will operate judiciously against Hamas targets as needed.

“We will strike them heavily,” he says.

“We need to operate with our head, not with our gut.”

‘IDF still operating against Hamas’

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz says that across the West Bank, especially in the south of the area, the operations against Hamas continue.

“The operations in the past two weeks were continuous, determined, and painful for our enemies,” he says.

‘Gaza action not likely’

Despite the harsh warning by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel could expand operations against Hamas in Gaza as much as needed, some analysts think the cabinet meeting taking place now will not end with a decision to launch a wider campaign.

Instead, they say, the sentiment by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon that “we must think with our head, not with our gut,” will likely carry the day, and the IDF will not carry out a large revenge campaign after the killing of the three teens.

Putin condemns ‘barbaric ‘ murder

Russian President Vladimir Putin sends a letter of condolence to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following the murder of the three teens.

Putin writes that Russia condemns the “barbaric act of terror.” He says he hopes that the perpetrators of the act will be brought to justice and bear an “appropriate” punishment for their actions.

The Russian president also asked Netanyahu to offer condolences to the mourning families and to the people of Israel.

Four arrested for assaulting Arabs

Police say they have arrested a man in central Jerusalem after entering a McDonald’s wearing a mask and attempting to attack an Arab customer.

Another three people were arrested nearby for assaulting “minorities,” police say.

No injuries were reported in either case.

The violence comes amid a rally by far-rightists in the capital that turned violent, with hundreds chanting anti-Arab slogans, and at least one case of a woman at a restaurant being assaulted.

Over 30 related arrests in Jerusalem have been made so far.

Original kidnapped teen’s call was hard to hear

The original recording of a call to police by one of the abducted teenager’s on June 12 is not as audible as the recording obtained by Israeli media on Tuesday, Channel 10 reported.

In the original recording, which was presented by police to the parents of the teens several days after the kidnapping, it is difficult to make out what the teen is saying.

It remains unclear whether the original recording was digitally enhanced or if it was altered in any way.

In the recording, the police operator tries to interact with the caller, but receives no answer. The 49-second recording continues with largely unintelligible background noise. The call itself lasted for 2:09 minutes and was then cut off, according to reports.

According to Gil-ad Shaar’s father, his son was the one who place the call.

Police officials accused Shin Bet operatives of intentionally leaking the recording online, Channel 10 reported.

Teaneck mayor: I will pray for families

The mayor of the New Jersey township of Teaneck offers his condolences to the mourning families and to the people of Israel.

“Tonight when I break my fast, I will be praying for the families of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach,” Mohammed Hameeduddin wrote on his Facebook page. “No Parent should ever have to bury their child.”

Teaneck, a suburb of New York City, is home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the East Coast.

TV stations back to broadcasting World Cup

After a full day of covering the funerals of the abducted teenagers, Israeli TV stations begin broadcasting the World Cup games once again.

Top US official warns against heavy-handed response

While emphasizing Israel’s right to defend its citizens, the White House’s Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication Ben Rhodes warns that Israel should “be precise” and avoid an overly “heavy-handed” response that could further destabilize the situation between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Our hearts go out to the families of the three teenagers who were found yesterday,” Rhodes tells members of Washington’s foreign press corps during a rare question-and-answer session. “We want to continue to support Israel in finding the perpetrators and bringing them to justice,” he says, adding that “we believe that this is done effectively through working with the Palestinian Authority.”

Ben Rhodes (photo credit: White House video screenshot)

Ben Rhodes (photo credit: White House video screenshot)

Rhodes also says that “there has to be an avoidance of steps that can further inflame tensions,” without initially specifying which actors – Israel, Hamas, or the Palestinian Authority’s technocratic government – must do so.

When pressed on Israel’s response to the kidnappings, murders, and continuing rocket attacks launched from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, Rhodes warns that “Israel needs to be very careful not to be so heavy-handed in their response that they are not threatening the stability of the situation and must respect the dignity of the Palestinian people.”

Rhodes said that “generally, Israel should be precise and they should not cast a net that harms innocent Palestinians in their actions.” In recent days, Israel has faced some international criticism for the rounds of West Bank arrests in which over 400 Palestinians were detained.

Rebecca Shimoni Stoil

Cabinet meets, families arrive to begin mourning period

In Tel Aviv, the cabinet is meeting to decide on a response to the killings of Gil-ad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach.

Meanwhile, the families have reached their homes in Talmon, Nof Ayalon and Elad respectively to begin the seven-day mourning period, surrounded by hundreds of comforters.

With this we close our day’s coverage.