WASHINGTON – Legislation introduced in Congress would post a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of the killers of Naftali Fraenkel, the Israeli-American teen abducted with two others and murdered last month in the West Bank.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Co.) authored the legislation concerning Fraenkel, who was abducted on June 12 along with Israelis Eyal Yifrach and Gil-ad Shaar. Their bodies were found June 30.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) co-sponsored the legislation in the House.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Hamas is behind the kidnappings and killings.
“The Israeli government’s recent action against Hamas is a just and appropriate mission to both bring the terrorists responsible to justice, and to degrade their capability to launch further attacks,” Cruz said. “No one doubts Israel’s ability to carry out this mission, but given Naftali’s citizenship, I believe the United States should demonstrate our clear support for Israel by offering a reward as we traditionally have in terrorist attacks involving Americans.”
The bill would require Secretary of State John Kerry to use the Rewards for Justice program to offer a $5 million dollar reward.
Israeli forces are still searching for the two suspected killers — Marwan Kawasme, 29, and Amar Abu Aysha, 32 — of the three Israeli teens.
The Israeli teenagers’ bodies were found near Hebron on June 30. Palestinian security forces are aiding the IDF in its hunt for the perpetrators.
The military has cordoned off a small area near the West Bank town of Halhul where Kawasme and Abu Aysha are believed to be holed up, a Channel 10 report said last week. Abu Aysha and Kawasme have operated in the Hebron area for several years, and are believed to be intimately familiar with the caves and tunnels dotting the rugged terrain surrounding Halhul.
They likely drew lessons from previous kidnappings of Israeli military personnel and civilians carried out by terrorist organizations. Security officials believe that the two planned in advance to remain in hiding for a long period of time, and stockpiled food in order to support themselves without outside assistance during a manhunt.
The IDF is said to be prepared for the possibility of a shootout with Kawasme and Abu Aysha.
The bodies of Yifrach, Fraenkel and Shaar were found partially buried in a field outside Halhul. They were laid to rest side-by-side at a cemetery in the central city of Modi’in on July 1.