A top official from Hamas has publicly announced that the group did kidnap and kill three Israeli teens this past June, which was the impetus for the current conflict in the region. Although Hamas has hailed the slaying, this is the first time it has come forth to claim responsibility.
Earlier reports suggested that Hamas was not involved in the deaths, but during a conference in Turkey on Wednesday the official confirmed the group’s hand in the killings.
From the Associated Press:
Saleh Arouri told a conference in Turkey on Wednesday that Hamas’ military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, carried out what he described as a “heroic operation” with the broader goal of sparking a new Palestinian uprising.
“It was an operation by your brothers from the al-Qassam Brigades,” he said, saying Hamas hoped
to exchange the youths for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
Arouri, creator and leader of Hamas’ West Bank military wing, lives in exile in Turkey after a deal freed him from Israeli prison and led to his deportation years ago. The Israeli government was angered by Arouri’s statement, saying that the group has no regard for civilian lives.
Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and 16-year-old Naftali Fraenkel, who held dual Israeli-American citizenship, are the names of the teenagers that were slain after trying to hitchhike home near the West Bank. The war has claimed hundreds of Palestinian lives thus far.
Photo: CBS/Israeli Defense Forces