Scores attend funeral for Israel murder suspects

Sep 24, 2014, 2:50 AM EDT
A flyer of the three slain Israeli teenagers, Eyal Yifrach,Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel is posted to a tree in front of the Israeli Embassy on July 11, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
AFP/Getty Images

Thousands of mourners on Tuesday marched in a funeral procession for two Palestinian men shot dead by the Israeli army, after being accused of abducting and killing three Israeli youths in the West Bank in June. The Jerusalem Post reports:

Some say this incident spiraled into the seven-week war in Gaza.

Waving Palestinian and green Hamas flags, the mourners carried the bodies of Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha, both in their 30s, through the streets of the West Bank city of Hebron. Israel had spent months searching for Kawasme and Abu Aysha.

They were shot dead during a gun battle after Israeli troops surrounded a house in the city before dawn, the army and residents said. Kawasme and Abu Aysha were suspected by Israeli authorities of carrying out the kidnapping and killing of the three teenage seminary students, who were abducted while hitchhiking at night near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank on June 12.

The military said army and police forces were trying to arrest the two suspects when a firefight erupted. It said they were both killed in the fire exchange. Kawasme and Abu Aysha were affiliated with Hamas, which initially denied any link to the June attack.

The IDF's killing Tuesday of the two Palestinians suspected of kidnapping and murdering three Israeli teenagers brought an acknowledged sense of relief to the slain boys' parents. Haaretz writes:

"There is a kind of relief that these two people, who were walking around with a lot of weapons and nothing to lose, won't be able to harm any more innocent victims," Rachelle Fraenkel told Israel's Channel 2 news.

Her son Naftali, 16, was kidnapped on June 12 along with Gilad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, while hitchhiking in the West Bank. They were shot to death that same night. On June 30, Israeli searchers found their bodies hidden under rocks in the West Bank.

The two suspects in the triple murder, Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha, were killed in firefight with Israeli forces in Hebron early on Tuesday.

The Shin Bet said that the two suspects, both members of a maverick Hamas network based in Hebron, were hiding in a house in the West Bank city. "Justice will prevail, and their day of judgment arrived," said Uri Yifrah, father of Eyal.