The Israeli military has found three bodies believed to be those of the missing teenagers who disappeared more than two weeks ago while hitchhiking home from their yeshiva in the occupied West Bank, a senior government official told The New York Times.
Israeli media announced at about 8:30 p.m. Monday that the families of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach had been notified of the discovery. The bodies have been positively identified.
The official who spoke with the Times spoke on condition of anonymity and said the Army found three bodies in a field near Hebron who were probably shot to death close to the time of the kidnapping, the Times reported.
It is believed that the bodies were dumped in haste and covered quickly.
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.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an emergency Cabinet meeting, according to the Times.
Several American Jewish organizations called for the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to suffer consequences in response to the kidnapping.
"Clearly, Hamas is a terrorist organization, and it must be dismantled, and it is the responsibility of Mahmoud Abbas to remove all Hamas-linked officials from his government immediately and fight terrorism vigorously and urgently. Abu Mazen must show leadership now,” WJC president Ronald Lauder said in a statement. He urged the United States, the European Union and other countries to halt financial support for the Palestinian Authority until it excludes Hamas from its government.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said that pro-forma expressions of sympathy would not be enough, and that those responsible for the crime and anyone who helps them should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
"For too long the threats against Israel, including missiles and terrorism, have elicited limited responses, with the roles of victims and perpetrators inverted. It must stop," wrote Robert G. Sugarman, chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman.
Americans for Peace Now condemned the kidnapping and asked not for actions, but for all parties to restrain themselves in order to prevent further tragedy.
Israelis are united in outrage in the face of this heinous act of terrorism. So are we. This terrible tragedy has already created a national crisis, and the crisis may now further escalate. We call on everyone involved to avoid escalation and to act responsibly," APN wrote in its statement.
JTA contributed to this report.