One of the key precipitating events in the current war between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza was the June kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. Israel blamed Hamas for the killings, and the subsequent crackdown on the group may have provoked the rocket fire that set off Israel’s airstrikes and ground invasion. It had remained an open question whether the kidnapping and murder had been ordered by Hamas’ leadership or was the act of a rogue cell. Wednesday, though, a “a top Hamas official” living in Turkey claimed the killings were an organized Hamas operation. From Haaretz:
A video captured during the conference shows Salach Al-Aruri, who is based in Turkey and is considered a primary figure within Hamas, saying that the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades were responsible for the abduction of the three youths, Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16. …”The al-Qassam’s mujahedeen were the ones to carry out [the abduction] in show of support for the prisoners’ hunger strike,” he adds, referring to Palestinian inmates held in Israel.
Meanwhile, in Gaza, Israeli airstrikes killed three senior Hamas military commanders early this morning. The three men were mourned and buried by what the New York Times describes as a crowd of approximately 10,000 people.