Middle East

Israel pummels Hamas in Gaza with airstrikes over slain teens

A Palestinian inspects the damaged family home of Amer Abu Aisheh, one of two Palestinians identified by Israel as suspects in the killing of three Israeli teenagers, after it was damaged by the Israeli army in the West Bank city of Hebron, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel bombed dozens of sites in the Gaza Strip Tuesday, striking at Hamas after finding the bodies of three missing teenagers whose abduction and killing it blames on the Palestinian group.

The military said aircraft attacked 34 sites, mostly belonging to Hamas, though its statement did not link the strikes to the abductions. Palestinian medics said two people were slightly wounded.

In the West Bank, Israeli troops shot and killed a 20-year-old Palestinian man during a raid in the northern town of Jenin. Israel said the man had thrown a grenade at the troops, but his family said he had been carrying eggs home for a predawn meal before the daylight fast for the Ramadan holiday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promised Hamas would pay after the discovery of the three Jewish seminary students’ bodies under rocks near the West Bank city of Hebron Monday.

“Hamas is responsible for the kidnapping and murder of the youths and we know how to settle accounts with them,” said Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.

“We will continue to hunt the killers of the youngsters. We will not rest nor will we be silent until we lay our hands on them.”

There has been no credible claim of responsibility for the teenagers’ abduction and Hamas has described Israel’s accusations as “stupid.”

In the city of Modi’in on the border of Israel and the occupied West Bank, thousands of Israelis attended the joint funeral of the slain teens.

Netanyahu, who attended the funeral, was in no doubt as to who should be held to account.

“Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay,” he told an emergency meeting of his security cabinet Monday evening.

The meeting ended inconclusively, with ministers sharply at odds over the right course of action, army radio reported.

An Israeli official familiar with the content of the meeting confirmed that Yaalon suggested a “measured” military response that would not lead to an escalation with Gaza, and Netanyahu was inclined to accept his position.

Two Hamas men named by Israel as the prime suspects – Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisheh – remain at large.

Palestinian witnesses said troops blew up their homes in Hebron early Tuesday.

The attacks revived a long-lapsed Israeli policy of destroying suspected militants’ homes.

Dazed neighbors visited the shattered Abu Aisheh home in Hebron Tuesday to comfort family members and curse the Israeli perpetrators.

“This is a country that tells the world it wants peace?” asked Amer’s uncle Mohammad, standing in the soot-encrusted second-floor salon, now blown open to the blue sky.

“What they’ve done here is absolutely barbaric. Look at the young boys here! Do you think they’ll grow up wanting peace, or full of hate and revenge from what they see?”

Israel’s army blew up or demolished militants’ homes for decades, but stopped the practice in 2005, saying it was counterproductive in their effort to discourage attacks.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 02, 2014, on page 10.




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