BEIRUT

Middle East

Kidnapped Israelis shot 10 times with silenced gun

A fireball rises following an Israeli missile strike on the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza Strip July 9, 2014. (AP Photo)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Three Israeli teenagers who were abducted by Palestinians in the occupied West Bank last month were shot at least 10 times with a silenced gun in what appeared to be premeditated killings, a U.S. official involved in the investigation said.

The disclosure clashed with speculation by some Israeli and Palestinian commentators that the captors intended to take hostages for a prisoner exchange but panicked and shot them.

The killing of the three Jewish seminary students followed the collapse of U.S.-brokered peace talks in April. One of them, 16-year-old Naftali Fraenkel, also held American citizenship.

Israeli police believe the killings led far-right Jews to kidnap and burn to death a Palestinian youth in revenge, and the incident also contributed to an eruption of three weeks of clashes between Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli military.

Missing since hitch-hiking home on June 12, their bodies were discovered on June 30. Israel blamed Hamas for their deaths but the Palestinian Islamist group has neither confirmed nor denied the allegation.

One of the three Israelis, Gil-Ad Shaer, 16, telephoned police and said "They've kidnapped me!" after he, Fraenkel and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrah got into a car which investigators suspect was driven by a Hamas militant posing as a religious Jew. A second disguised gunman sat in the front passenger seat.

A U.S. official involved in the probe said the FBI, whose mandate includes Americans abducted abroad, received a recording of the distress call from Israel within days and sent it for audio analysis in the United States.

Distorted, tinny reports heard on the tape after an Arabic-accented male voice shouts "Head down!" in response to Shaer's attempt to raise the alarm were found to be consistent with shots from a silenced firearm, the U.S. official said.

"There were 10 gunshots," added the official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The use of a silencer led U.S. investigators to believe the captors planned to kill the three teenagers from the outset, the U.S. official said.

Israeli officials declined to respond to the American account of the investigation, saying it was still ongoing.

"We haven't even caught the kidnappers yet, so we're not going public with anything more now," said an official with the Shin Bet security service, which is in charge of the case.

 

Recommended

Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)

comments powered by Disqus
Summary

Three Israeli teenagers who were abducted by Palestinians in the occupied West Bank last month were shot at least 10 times with a silenced gun in what appeared to be premeditated killings, a U.S. official involved in the investigation said.

Israeli police believe the killings led far-right Jews to kidnap and burn to death a Palestinian youth in revenge, and the incident also contributed to an eruption of three weeks of clashes between Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli military.

Israeli officials declined to respond to the American account of the investigation, saying it was still ongoing.


Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here