Photo: REX

Tensions escalate between Israel and Palestinians after teen kidnappings

Wed 02 Jul 2014
By Sarah McAllister

There have been clashes between protesters and Israeli forces in east Jerusalem following the reported kidnapping and death of a Palestinian teenager. 

A body has been found but not yet identified.

It comes just a day after a funeral was held for three Israeli teenagers kidnapped and killed in the West Bank.

The bodies of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach were found on Monday evening after they went missing more than two weeks ago. They were discovered under a pile of rocks near the Palestinian town of Halhul.

They were last seen at a junction between Hebron and Jerusalem as they hitchhiked home.

Israel blames Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and has promised those responsible will pay.

Hamas denies any involvement and warned Israel any retaliation over the deaths saying "the gates of hell will open".

Victor Kalisher is director of Bible Society in Israel, he told Premier's Marcus Jones on the News Hour he's praying for peace:

On Tuesday morning Israel bombed dozens of sites in the Gaza strip mostly belonging to Hamas, though the airstrikes were not directly linked to the death of the students.

Israeli Defence Force (IDF) spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said: "At this time thousands of troops and commanders continue their task.

"For us the mission hasn't finished yet. We will continue to look for those responsible for this murder, those terrorists of Hamas."

When they first disappeared a huge search operation was launched across the West Bank which resulted in the arrest of more than 400 Palestinians and the death of five.

The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has called an emergency meeting of his team and expressed "regret" for the deaths.

Middle East Minister Hugh Robertson responded to an urgent question in the House of Commons describing the deaths as "an appalling act of terror".

He said: "There's no reason, belief or cause that can justify the abduction and killing of innocent civilians. We send our deepest condolences to the families of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach.

"The Government remains in close contact with both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities. The urgent priority is to hold those responsible to account under the rule of law and we stand ready to do everything possible to help."

Meanwhile, the Vatican described the killings of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers as a "tragic and unacceptable crime" and obstacle to peace.

In a statement it said Pope Francis shared the "unspeakable pain" suffered by the families of the victims.

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