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June 30, 2014 7:10 pm

American Jewish Groups Express Anguish, Solidarity Following Discovery of Murdered Israeli Teens

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Murdered Israeli teens Gilad Shaer, Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frankel (IDF)

Murdered Israeli teens Gilad Shaer, Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frankel (IDF).

Major American Jewish groups expressed outrage and grief following reports from Israel on Monday that three teens who were kidnapped on June 12 were found murdered.

“We share the anguish of the parents and families of Naftali, Gilad and Eyal, and of the entire Israeli nation,” said American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris. “Cowardly terrorists chose three Jewish youths, innocently hitchhiking to return home for Shabbat, to seize and mercilessly kill.”

The bodies of Naftali Frankel, 16, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, were found in a field near Hebron. Hamas operatives are suspected of abducting the three Jewish boys and killing them shortly afterwards, though the terrorist group has denied involvement in the kidnapping.

Since the abduction, more than 25 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza.

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“We can only hope that all people of goodwill will stand together in unambiguous, immediate condemnation of this murder, and give further thought to a Palestinian government that includes Hamas as one of its two pillars,” said Harris.

The kidnapping and murders took place just weeks after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas established a unity government with Hamas.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center expressed its condolences and solidarity with the families of the murdered teens. The organization also called for President Barack Obama to tell Abbas he must sever ties with Hamas or face losing U.S. aid.

“This is not a time for ambiguity but for decisive action. Those are our children who were murdered by Hamas, but make no mistake the leadership of that terrorist organization is already planning the next attack against women and children,” said Rabbis Marvin Hier, SWC founder and dean, and SWC Associate Dean Abraham Cooper.

“President Obama must act by sending an unmistakable message to President Abbas:  ‘Are you the leader of a government that seeks peace or the leader who accepts murderers of children as part of his government?'”

“President Obama must tell the Palestinian people that peace and Hamas are mutually exclusive and that the U.S. will no longer agree to any contact with a Palestinian government with any member of Hamas – political, military, or technocrat,” Hier and Cooper concluded.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said those responsible for “this heinous and barbaric crime and those who aid and abet them, support them, and inspire them must be brought to swift justice and be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

“It is time that the world stand in unity against those who advocate and execute, as well as justify, the murder of innocent young people who are brutally butchered in Israel or anywhere,” its statement said. “It cannot be met by indifference or pro-forma expressions of sympathy. For too long the threats against Israel, including missiles and terrorism, have elicited limited responses, with the roles of victims and perpetrators inverted. It must stop.”

The three boys were kidnapped 18 days ago as they made their way home from their high school Mekor Haim, in the Gush Etzion bloc, for the weekend. Searchers found their bodies on Monday a few kilometers from the scene of the abduction.

B’nai B’rith International said it is “outraged and horrified” by the murders. It called the kidnapping and subsequent killings of the three boys “the direct product of the constant and relentless incitement taught by the Palestinians.” Generations of Palestinians have been raised “on a diet of hate” that feeds the terrorism targeting Israel, the human rights group said in a statement.

“The twin evils of incitement and terrorism have once again shown that Israel does not have a credible partner for peace,” the statement read. “The Israeli government has placed the blame for the kidnappings—which occurred less than two weeks after the swearing in of the Fatah-Hamas-backed Palestinian government—directly on Hamas, which remains committed to the destruction of Israel and to carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians.”

B’nai B’rith added that it is “the duty of the Palestinians” to turn over the murderers to Israel.

Pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said in a statement that it “stands with the people of Israel at this moment of sorrow and loss. We express our deep sympathy and condolences to the families of the innocent teenage boys who were murdered by terrorists with no respect for human life.”

The group said, “Americans and Israelis understand that terrorist barbarism cannot be tolerated. We have once again witnessed that Hamas is an enemy of peace, reconciliation and fundamental human decency. For the sake of peace, all people of goodwill should distance themselves from this terrorist body.”

“Israel is not alone at this terrible time of mourning. America and all civilized people share Israel’s loss and identify with her determination to defend her people. Terror must be given no quarter.”

Jewish human rights group the Anti-Defamation League “expressed deep sorrow over the news that the bodies of the three abducted Israeli teens have been found.”

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said, “We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn that our worst fears have been realized.”

“In the 18 days since these boys were abducted, Israel and its supporters around the world came together to pray for their safe return.  Unfortunately, Eyal, Gilad and Naftali will not be returning home to their families or to their studies,” he added. “We extend our sincerest condolences to the Yifrach, Shaar and Fraenkel families. We take this opportunity to affirm our solidarity with the State of Israel at this difficult time and to condemn all those who engage in and support terrorism.  We reiterate our support for Israel’s right to self-defense.”

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