The families of three teens killed in a June terror attack thanked Israeli forces for finding the Hamas suspects Tuesday, and said an “evil circle has been closed” with the deaths of the two Hebron men.
At the same time, political leaders heralded the early morning operation, in which Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha were killed in a gunfight with Israeli troops, as the fulfillment of a promise after a several-month manhunt following the June 12 slaying.
In a statement, the families of Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gil-ad Sha’ar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, said they were proud of the Israeli government and security forces for bringing the perpetrators to justice.
“The world now knows that Jewish blood is not worthless,” they said in a statement. “An evil circle has been closed today and with the start of a new year we hope that from here on only good circles will be open.”
Rachelle Fraenkel, the mother of Naftali Fraenkel, told Channel 10 news that she was “relieved that the murderers will not be able to hurt any other innocent people,” and was glad they had been killed and not simply captured.
“We are happy that we will not have to see their laughing faces in court, or see their names in prisoner exchange negotiations. It would be very hard to imagine them walking around freely,” Fraenkel said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at a cabinet meeting Tuesday, thanked security forces for carrying out this “important” mission and promised that “we will continue to hit terror everywhere,” according to a statement released by his office.
“When we found the bodies of Naftali, Gil-ad and Eyal I said that whoever carried out the kidnapping and murder of our teens — his blood will be on his head,” Netanyahu said.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon offered his condolences to the bereaved families, saying, “There is no relief for the loss experienced by the Fraenkel, Sha’ar and Yifrach families during this difficult time, but I do hope that knowing that their sons’ killers have been punished and will not threaten the lives of other Israelis will offer them the slightest comfort.”
The three teens were abducted from a West Bank hitchhiking post on June 12, setting off a massive search operation and crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank, raising tensions which eventually snowballed into the summer’s 50-day war in Gaza. The bodies of the three were found near Hebron on June 30.
Israel named the two suspects in the killing as Kawasme and Abu Aysha, saying both were Hamas operatives. On Tuesday morning, the army said they had located the two and killed them in the course of a firefight while trying to capture the pair.
In his response to the operation, Likud lawmaker Danny Danon stated that “this is a clear message to all of our enemies that we will settle the score with any terrorist, no matter where they are hiding.”
Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) also welcomed the news of the assassinations in a statement, saying, “The success of the security forces is the success of the entire nation in removing this curse for the new year.”
A statement released by Jewish Home MK Orit Strock praised the operation’s success, saying, “There is no doubt that eliminating these ruthless terrorists is the best response to Arab terrorism.”