Authorities confirmed today that the bodies of the three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped in the West Bank earlier this month were found in an open field in Halhul, reported ABC News.
The remains of Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, were discovered north of the community of Telem, just a 15-minute drive from where they went missing in Hebron.
“The bodies are currently going through forensic identification,” the Israeli Defense Forces said in a statement. “The families of the abducted teens have been notified.”
Hamas, the Palestinian militant group accused by Israel of taking the boys, has denied kidnapping the teens, though senior Israeli and Palestinian officials agree that the abductors were likely tied to — or part of — Hamas but operating without orders from the organization’s leadership.
“I was filled with deep sadness upon hearing of the murders of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach by Hamas terrorists,” deputy defense minister Danny Danon said.
“Israelis have the willingness and the fortitude necessary to endure the hardships of a long-lasting operation aimed at eradicating Hamas. We will not stop until Hamas is completely defeated.”
One of the teens, 16-year-old Naftali Frenkel, had dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship and his family is from Brooklyn.
“Brooklyn mourns the loss of life that was discovered today in Israel, as three teenagers, one of whom with significant ties to our borough, were found deceased,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams in a statement.
“Their disappearance had a deep impact on many Brooklynites, not only our Jewish brothers and sisters but people in general that believe in basic human decency.
“Protecting innocent children is paramount; it is a fight we are engaged in from Nigeria to Nostrand Avenue, from Israel to India Street. I urge the international community to demand that justice prevail.”