Settlers established three new outposts in the West Bank overnight Thursday, in honor of the three murdered Israeli teenagers whose bodies were found Monday afternoon near Hebron, after 18 days of extensive searches.
The three, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Eyal Yifrach, 19, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16, were kidnapped on June 12 from a hitchhiking post outside the settlement of Alon Shvut in the Etzion Bloc south of Jerusalem, and killed soon afterwards.
Two of the outposts were erected in the Etzion Bloc — the first, Ramat Hashlosha, near the settlement of Bat-Ayin, and the other, Tekoa He, near the settlement of Tekoa.
The Defense Ministry said the outposts were illegal, Channel 2 reported, and that they would be dealt with in the coming days.
The establishment of both outposts was backed by the Gush Etzion Regional Council, which provided the sites with generators and temporary dwelling facilities. A statement issued by the regional council said “hundreds of housing units” would be constructed at the two sites in the future.
“The murderers sought to weaken the settlement movement and our answer is to strengthen our hold on the land, to build and not to displace,” David Perel, the head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, said.
A third outpost, Talmei Haim, was established on a hilltop north of Kiryat Arba, in an area under the jurisdiction of the town.
“The new neighborhood will expand the town towards the area where the abduction took place,” the head of the Kiryat Arab regional council, Malachi Levinger, said.
“Our answer to the taking of life is to plant new life at any time and any place in the country, as part of our birthright,” he added.
The three outposts join two more sites that were established on the night the kidnapped teenagers’ bodies were found, one near the Israeli West Bank city of Ma’ale Adumim, and another near Karmei Tzur.
Israel has blamed Hamas for the kidnappings and named two Hamas men in Hebron as the prime suspects. Security forces are engaged in an ongoing search for the two, who disappeared on June 12, the day of the abduction. IDF troops are also conducting a search for a third suspect who may have assisted the kidnappers.
The teenagers’ bodies were found in an area near Halhul, north of Hebron, on Monday afternoon. The teens had been killed soon after their abduction, and the bodies were apparently disposed of hurriedly.