The Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ issued a statement joining the outpouring of dismay over the deaths of three missing Israeli teenagers.
The federation “joins with the state of Israel and the worldwide Jewish community in grief and horror following the announcement of the tragic murders of Gilad Shaar, 16, Naftali Frenkel, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19,” according to the statement, released Monday afternoon. “Their innocent lives had only just begun when they were so abruptly taken in vain. We hope those who committed this heinous act will be brought to justice.”
The bodies of three kidnapped Israeli teens were found in a field north of Hebron.
Israeli media announced at about 8:30 p.m. Monday that the families of Shaar, Frenkel, and Yifrach had been notified of the discovery. The bodies were positively identified.
It is believed that the bodies were dumped in haste and covered quickly. The teens were reportedly killed shortly after they were abducted on June 12.
The teens were last seen trying to get rides home from a junction in Gush Etzion, a bloc of settlements located south of Jerusalem.
One of the teens, Naftali Frenkel, is a dual American-Israeli citizen.
Israel’s Shin Bet security service and the Israel Defense Forces on Thursday identified two West Bank Palestinian men affiliated with Hamas, Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasme, as the alleged kidnappers. The suspects, who live in Hebron, have been missing since the June 12 kidnapping.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in response to news of the discovery, “We obviously condemn in the strongest possible terms violence that takes the lives of innocent civilians.”
Israeli television showed images of relatives and friends flooding the homes of the families shortly after a gag order was lifted and the discovery reported.
Shortly after the news was made public, rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip on southern Israel.
The bodies were found by a volunteer civilian search team on land belonging in the Kawasme family. The bodies, which were tied up, were in poor condition when they were discovered.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a Facebook post said “Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay.” He called the victims “pure and young.”
Israeli politicians weighed in with their thoughts about the teens and the fight against terror.
President Shimon Peres, who made a plea to President Obama last week in the United States to help find the boys, said, “Alongside the deep mourning, we remain determined to bring down an iron fist on the criminal terrorists. Our war against terror will only grow and not weaken so that the murderous terrorists will not dare to raise their heads. At this difficult hour, I warmly embrace and strengthen the hands of the mothers, the wonderful fathers and family members of Naftali, Gilad and Eyal.”
Israeli President-elect Reuven Rivlin had met the teens’ parents on Sunday night for the first time.
“What we feared has come to pass,” he said. “Our fear was deep but we carried in our hearts the hope that even murderous terrorists would spare the teens.”
And from Isaac Herzog, the opposition leader and Labor Party head: “The kidnapping and murder of innocent boys under cover of night is a despicable and unforgivable crime. There is no justification or excuse, and I am convinced that the long arms of the security forces will reach the murderers.”
Hamas warned Israel against taking revenge for the murders.
“If the occupiers carry out an escalation or a war,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told the French news agency AFP, “they will open the gates of hell on themselves.”