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Hamas Murderers of Israeli Yeshiva Students Killed in Shootout near Hebron

hamasmurderers

Marwan Kawasmeh and Amer Abu Eisha killers of three Israel Yeshiva students.

Marwan Kawasmeh and Amir Abu Eisha, the two alleged perpetrators  of the June 2014 kidnap/murders of  three Israeli Yeshiva Students, were killed early Tuesday morning in a shootout at an armed compound near Hebron by a special operations unit of Israeli Border Police aided by Shin Bet. Hamas, which took responsibility for the murders, praised the two slain perpetrators  as so-called ‘martyrs’ during a funeral today. See our NER interview with Dan Diker,”Exposing Hamas’ Kidnapping Strategy.

According to a report in Arutz Sheva, Israel National News, “Murderers of the Three Teens Eliminated”, the kidnapping and murder of the three Yeshiva students was preplanned. A relative of the family obtained a car with Israeli license tags and the perpetrators were dressed as orthodox Jews  to mislead  and entrap the three hitchhiking victims, Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Sha’ar, and Naftali Frenkel.   Hamas used the manhunt that ensnared hundreds of its members on the West Bank as a pretext for the launch of 50 day rocket and terror tunnel campaign and IDF Operation Protective Edge in July and August 2014.  67 IDF soldiers and 6 Israel civilians were killed, while 2,100 Palestinians were killed, nearly half of whom may have been Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters.

Here are excerpts from the Arutz Sheva report. On the raid that killed the two murderers:

The operation was carried out by the Yamam, a special unit of the Border Police, and the IDF, in Hevron. An attempt was made to arrest the suspects but an exchange of fire developed in which they were killed.

The operation was made possible by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), which located the murderers’ hideout. In the last few days, several Hamas suspects were arrested and questioned on the assumption that they were assisting the fugitives.

“We have been pursuing these two since the abduction,” said Judea and Samaria Division Commander Brig. Gen. Tamir Yadai. “Last night the investigation ripened as regards their location and we have been surrounding the place where they were hiding since 1:00 a.m. We killed them and there are arrests of several other collaborators.”

“We began arresting suspects and at the same time we applied [IDF] ‘pressure cooker’ protocol on the house. It is a big house and they hid out in a secret arms store on the basement floor. The floor is not visible from the outside. At one stage they went outside and opened fire. One was shot and the other fell inside, into a hole.”

“There was use of weapons, like hand grenades and the deployment of explosives that were prepared ahead of time,” he added. “We know that they have been staying in this location quite a lot in the last few days. We know for certain that they were not here the whole time. They had weapons like M-16s, a Kalashnikov and handguns, too.”

3 isreali students murdered

Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Sha’ar,  Eyal Yifrah Two Israelis and an Israel American kidnapped and murdered by slain Hamas operatives.

The accomplices and planning for the kidnapping:

Kawasmeh’s close relative Hussam was arrested in Jerusalem in August for planning the attack, which was carried out physically by Marwan, along with Amer Abu-Eisha.

The abduction and murder reportedly was planned by a third Kawasmeh, Mahmoud, along with Hussam, under the support of Hamas’s military branch, the Al-Qassam Brigades, through their branches both in Gaza and abroad.

The Brigades transferred funds via Mahmoud to purchase a car with an Israeli license plate, weapons and hideouts which were arranged in advance, according to security sources. They added that the three Israeli teens were buried on land purchased by the Kawasmeh family long before the attack. Hussam admitted in investigation to having shaven his beard off and obtained a forged passport in an attempt to flee the country to Jordan.

[…]

The source claimed the kidnappers used a silenced weapon, indicating their attempt to actually use the gun, and dressed up as religious Jews to lure the victims into their car.

The Jerusalem Post reported Israeli PM Netanyahu saying that Israel “had fulfilled its pledge”:

“I said from the very first that Hamas was responsible for the kidnapping and murder, and as the evidence that we brought mounted, Hamas admitted that it was also behind that attack.”

Netanyahu, who thanked the security services for their efforts, said he spoke to the families of the murdered teens in the morning, and said that nothing could balm their pain or bring the boys back. “But I said there was justice, and that we carried out the mission that we pledged before them and the entire nation that we would carry out”.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

IDF Raids Seek an American and Two Israelis Allegedly Abducted by Hamas

Saturday night, the IDF and Shin Bet arrested more than 80 Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad activists in Hebron in the disputed territories. This is in connection with the abduction of three youths, one American and two Israelis. The IDF has committed a paratroop brigade to the operation sealing off the area of the abduction. The IDF and Israel’s General Security Service (Shin Bet) launched a massive manhunt last Thursday for the alleged Hamas abductors of 16 year old American Naftali Frenkel and two Israelis, Gilad Shaar, 16 and Eyal Yifrach, 19. They were allegedly abducted while hitchhiking home from religious school in the Gush Etzion bloc between Bethlehem and Hebron.  According to a Washington Post report, one of the abductees got off a cell call saying, “we’ve been kidnapped”.

Hamas is believed to be behind their abduction.  At a Sunday Cabinet meeting, Israeli PM Netanyahu said:

Those who perpetrated the abduction of our youths were members of Hamas; the same Hamas that Abu Mazen (Abbas) made a unity government with. This has severe repercussions.

The WaPo report cited Israeli American Naftali Bennett, economics minister in the Netanyahu ruling coalition, saying: “We will respond with an iron fist to terror.”  Thousands of Israeli prayed for the safe return of the three youths at the Kotel, Western Wall, of the Temple in Jerusalem. The National Council of Young Israel in New York issued a call for a Prayer Service for the safe return outside the Israeli Consulate in Manhattan on Monday, June 16th. The announcement used the Twitter hashtag, #BringBackOurBoys.

Hamas issued a statement praising the abduction.   According to an updated report by The Daily Mail, Senior Hamas spokesperson, Sami Abu Zuhri in Gaza called the accusation by PM Netanyahu “silly”. Really?   While cooperating with the Palestinian security service, Israel also relies on their own resources in the West Bank to identify the abductors and the possible location of the three teens. This despite PA senior official Hanan Ashrawi cited  by The Daily Mail saying , “this is something we have no information on”.  However, what can you expect from the Palestinian unity government with Hamas.  Its Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah acknowledges that it has no control over Gaza.

Secretary of State Kerry issued a statement today saying:

The United States strongly condemns the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers and calls for their immediate release. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families. We hope for their quick and safe return home. We continue to offer our full support for Israel in its search for the missing teens, and we have encouraged full cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian security services. We understand that cooperation is ongoing.

We are still seeking details on the parties responsible for this despicable terrorist act, although many indications point to Hamas’ involvement. As we gather this information, we reiterate our position that Hamas is a terrorist organization known for its attacks on innocent civilians and which has used kidnapping in the past.

Three Israelis? Frankel is a US citizen. The Daily Mail noted Frankel’s mother’s   public message to her son that reflected the concerns of many Israelis and Americans:

Mommy and Daddy and your brothers love you until the end of the world and you should know that the people of Israel are doing all they can to bring you back home.

Israelis and Americans are more than concerned about the fate of three abductees given prior occurrences, including former IDF Sgt. Gilad Shalit snatched during a cross border raid in 2006 and released in an exchange for more than 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in 2011.

Then there is the case of 13 year old Israeli American Koby Mandell and Israeli Yosef Ishran abducted and murdered while on a hike in the disputed territories near the Israeli settlement of Tekoa in May 2001. Mandell’s family had made Aliyah to Israel in the mid-1990’s. The US Congress passed the Koby Mandell Act in 2004 that authorized the Justice Department to arrest foreigners, including Palestinians, who had murdered Americans overseas.  The Koby Mandell Foundation was established in his memory to provide bereavement counseling to the parents and widows of terrorist victims.

In 2012, 52 members of Congress signed a letter sponsored by the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) urging the Department of Justice’s Office for Justice of Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OJVOT), which was formed in 2005, to implement The Koby Mandell Act.  Sarah Stern of EMET said that the letter was to “ensure that the investigation and prosecution of terrorist attacks against American citizens overseas remain a high priority within the Department of Justice.”  Z Street, of which this writer is a board member, was one of several sponsors of the EMET letter to prod Attorney General Holder to recognize the responsibilities of OJVOT.

Sherri Mandell in a Jerusalem Post oped during the EMET 2012 campaign cited the dismal OJVOT track record since the law’s enactment in 2004:

The OJVOT is supposed to investigate, apprehend, indict, extradite and punish terrorists. At least 54 American citizens have been killed, and 83 wounded here in Israel. Neither the OJVOT nor the Department of Justice has done anything to enforce American law in these cases. The only terrorist prosecuted under the law was the killer of a Christian missionary in Indonesia. I’m happy that the killers were prosecuted, but still one wonders. Why is there no communication, investigation, prosecution, or indictment here in Israel? The OJVOT is supposed to protect us. Instead it neglects us.

We sincerely hope the massive IDF-Shin Bet dragnet can free American Naftali Frenkel, Israelis Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and capture their abductors. In view of the abject failure of the US government to pursue justice for the families of the US victims in Israel and the disputed territories, we trust the Israeli government can bring these perpetrators to justice.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Israel Foils Al Qaeda Plot Against US Embassy

Time and time again, Israel has proven to be America’s closest, most reliable ally in the Middle East.

Last week we saw the latest example of Israel’s dedication to America as an ally when Israel’s Shin Bet security service announced that it had arrested Al Qaeda terrorists who were part of a cell plotting to launch an attack on the US embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel.

tel aviv bombers

The al-Qaeda terror suspects. Photo: Shin Bet.

Shin Bet indicated that the three terrorists, two from Jerusalem and one from the West Bank, were recruited by an Al Qaeda terrorist operative based in the Gaza Strip who worked directly for Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The suicide bomb attack on the US embassy was to be part of an audacious plan to conduct simultaneous attacks on three targets in Israel, the other two targets being an Israeli transit bus and a neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

While there have been fears of an Al Qaeda presence in Israel for some time now, this plot is the first indication of actual, active Al Qaeda terrorists inside Israel.

What is particularly upsetting about the aftermath of the takedown of this Al Qaeda cell has been the muted U.S. reaction.

First, in Washington, Obama State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said U.S. investigators and intelligence officials were not yet able to corroborate the Israeli information and declined to comment on specifics of the case. Harf even told reporters, “I don’t have reason to believe it’s not true. I just don’t have independent verification.”

Meanwhile, senior U.S. officials elsewhere, speaking to reporters anonymously, were confirming the plot, while the Obama State Department was essentially giving no comment.

One wonders just exactly what the State Department meant when it said it did not have “independent verification.”

Who would the State Department be looking to for that “independent verification”?

Eventually, the Obama State Department did “acknowledge” the plot and Israel’s arrest of the terrorists, claiming that they had been in touch with the Israelis on the matter for some time.

What has been completely absent from any statement on the matter from the U.S. has been any expression of gratitude toward Israel for breaking up a plot by our sworn enemy, Al Qaeda, to bomb our embassy.

That silence comes just days after President Obama told the New Yorker, that the current Al Qaeda was the “jayvee” team, once again dismissing the threat from jihadist terrorism.

The only strong statement acknowledging Israel’s key role in heading off this Al Qaeda attack came from Illinois Representative Peter Roskam who released the following statement:

“The plot to attack our embassy in Israel reminds us why we must remain vigilant against the continued and evolving threat from Al Qaeda. With the tragic deaths of American personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi still fresh on our minds, the Israeli intelligence community’s work to stop this attack in its tracks once again demonstrates the mutual importance of our close security cooperation with Israel.”

It certainly appears that the Obama administration is actively ignoring this entire event. And no wonder; after all, it’s a bad situation for Obama in three ways:

  1. It indicates that the “on the run,” “jayvee” Al Qaeda that Obama keeps dismissing is still out there plotting against U.S. targets;
  2. Israel, the country Obama seems to dislike and throw under the bus more than any other U.S. ally, came to the rescue;
  3. Israel seems to have done a better job of looking out for the security of our diplomatic personnel and facilities than we have ourselves. It’s too bad that Israel’s security services weren’t in charge of security in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, instead of Hillary Clinton, Obama’s then-secretary of state!

All of this serves as a painful reminder that the U.S. and its allies continue to be the target of the jihadists and that we must remain ever-vigilant.

Most importantly, we must work to maintain close, friendly relations with our allies, such as Israel, who have stood by us for decades.