Hamas terrorists who abducted and murdered three Israeli boys in June were killed by a special police unit on Tuesday. Finally there is closure, but the sorrow remains.
A three-month-long manhunt for Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha, the Hamas abductors and murderers of three Israeli high-school boys – Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frankel, and Eyal Yifrach – came to an end early Tuesday morning when a special police unit, acting on intelligence gathered by the Shabak (Israel Security Agency/ISA), identified the terror cell and killed them.
Police forces surrounded a house in Hebron and attempted to arrest the two murderers, but they resisted and opened fire on the security forces. A gun battle ensued, during which the terrorists were killed. No injuries were reported on the Israeli side.
The IDF also arrested Basher Kawasme, Muhammad Kawasme and Ta’ar Kawasme in connection with the kidnapping. They are the sons of Arafat Kawasme, who was arrested on July 14 on charges of aiding the abductors to flee after the attack.
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz commended Major-General Nitzan Alon, head of the IDF’s Central Command, for the successful operation.
“The lethal abduction and murder attack prompted Operation Brother’s Keeper, during which security forces located the bodies of the victims and succeeded in striking and severely impairing the Hamas terrorist organization in the region,” Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, IDF spokesman, stated. “We were determined in bringing the ruthless murderers of Gilad, Eyal and Naftali to justice. The efforts have been continuous and extensive. Today’s successful mission brings the long-term search to an end, and the perpetrators of the crime no longer pose a threat to Israeli civilians.”
Family Business of Terror
The two terrorists were members of the Kawasme clan, a well-known Hamas family in the Hebron area that has been involved in terror attacks against Israelis for decades.
Marwan Kawasme, 29, had been arrested a number of times on charges of involvement in Hamas terror activity. He was last arrested in 2010.
Amar Abu Aysha, 32, was also arrested a few times on terror charges.
Kawasme and Abu Aysha kidnapped the three boys on June 12, while they were hitchhiking home from school in Gush Etzion. Shortly after picking the teens up, the terrorists shot and buried them in a shallow grave.
The IDF launched Operation Bring Back Our Boys to find them. The operation ended 18 days later when the grave was uncovered.
The IDF and Shabak, while continuing the search for the terrorists, managed to arrest Hussam Kawasme, the mastermind and funder of the attack, on July 11.
“This won’t bring back the boys,” Racheli Frankel, Naftali’s mother, told IDF Radio upon hearing the news Tuesday morning. “I am glad no one else was hurt. I was worried the terrorists would take more people with them on their way out from this world. I am happy that did not happen. I am not sad [that] I will not meet their smiling faces in court or in situations were they might have been released during a prisoner release deal.”
“I don’t feel anything different” Frankel said. “It’s a bit of relief that we won’t have to encounter this evil. The alternative of witnessing them celebrating in the streets would have been painful, and I am now spared of that.”
She added that when she told her other children that the murderers were found and killed, their response was “Yes!”
Sorrow Remains but Justice Achieved
Ezra Shaar, Gilad’s grandfather, told IDF Radio that he knew this would ultimately happen. “I always had confidence that the IDF would get to them, these lowly terrorists. They must know that we will chase them till the end, no matter where they hide or where they run to. We have settled the account with them.”
However, “this does not diminish our mourning and sorrow for the death of the boys. I would like to thank the IDF and the Israeli nation, who were at our side during this period.”
“I would like to commend the outstanding intelligence work of the ISA,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared. “I would like to commend the ISA, the Israel Police Anti-Terror Unit and the IDF. On behalf of the people of Israel I salute you for your precise and important operation. We will continue strike at terrorism everywhere. A few days after the attack I said near Hebron, the city of the patriarchs, that we would pursue the enemy, find them and not return until they had been dealt with. This morning the long arm of Israeli justice did just this.”
The Israeli leader spoke with the parents of the three youths following the operation. “With the advent of the New Year, nothing can assuage their pain and nothing can bring back their wonderful, dear boys,” he said. “But I told them that justice has been done and that we had carried out the mission that we promised to them and all of Israel.”
Author: Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer, United with Israel