Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the killing of three Israeli teenagers, whose bodies were found on Monday, saying that "Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay". The Israeli prime minister added that the teenagers "were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by wild beasts".
In response, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP that any Israeli action to punish Hamas for the alleged murder of the teens would open "the gates of hell". He said: "If the occupiers carry out an escalation or a war, they will open the gates of hell on themselves."
In a statement, David Cameron said he was "deeply saddened" by the killings, calling it an "appalling and inexcusable act of terror". The prime minister added: "Britain will stand with Israel as it seeks to bring to justice those responsible. Tonight my thoughts and prayers are with the families of Gilad, Naftali and Eyal. No parent should have ever to suffer such heartache or grief."
In a statement, Barack Obama said: "On behalf of the American people I extend my deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel – who held Israeli and American citizenship. As a father, I cannot imagine the indescribable pain that the parents of these teenage boys are experiencing." He added: "The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this senseless act of terror against innocent youth... As the Israeli people deal with this tragedy, they have the full support and friendship of the United States."
Earlier, the IDF confirmed the corpses of the three missing teens, who were kidnapped on June 12 were found close to Hebron on the West Bank. On Monday afternoon, the army closed off a patch of land near the village of Halhul, close to where the teens went missing more than two weeks ago.
According to AP, a civilian search party saw something suspicious in a field and called the army, who found the buried bodies under some rocks. Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16, were kidnapped while hitchhiking close to Alon Shvut, south of Jerusalem. All three were students at yeshivas in the kibbutz of Kfar Etzion.
A spokesperson for the IDF confirmed: "Following extensive searches in order to retrieve the three abducted teens... three bodies were discovered in the area north-west to Hebron, north of the community of Telem. The bodies are currently going through forensic identification. The families of the abducted teens have been notified."
Hamas militants are believed to have been responsible the kidnapping, allegations that led the Israeli military to launch a huge ground operation within Palestine lands, raiding Palestinian homes and arresting hundreds of suspects in the weeks since the teens went missing. Hamas has denied responsibility for the kidnapping, with IDF officials suggesting that the kidnappers may have been working as part of Hamas but without direct orders.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas condemned the kidnappings, and order members of the Palestinian military to help with the search for the teens.