Middle East

As Teens Are Buried In Ceremony, Israelis React To Unearthed Recordings

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After finding three Israeli teens dead in the West Bank, the Israeli government has released a recording of an emergency phone call placed during their kidnapping. It has also begun a campaign of air strikes aimed at Hamas.


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Melissa Block. A funeral service was held today for three Israeli teens whose bodies were found yesterday in the West Bank. That's where they were abducted nearly three weeks ago. Israel says Hamas operatives are behind the kidnapping and killings, and they responded with sweeping arrests of hundreds of Palestinians. Overnight, Israeli forces launched airstrikes on Gaza and killed a Palestinian man during a raid in the West Bank. Coming up, an interview with Israel's ambassador to the U.S., but first, Daniel Estrin reports from Jerusalem on today's funeral and new details that have emerged about the kidnapping.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Around 10 p.m. on June 12th, police say, a white Hyundai pulled up at a hitchhiking post in the West Bank and three Israeli teenagers climbed in the back. Twenty-five minutes later, Israeli police dispatchers received an emergency call.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

ESTRIN: Sixteen-year-old Gilad Shaar says, I've been kidnapped. The police dispatcher says, hello, hello? Then a man's voice yells, head down, head down. There are noises - possibly gunshots, and someone turns up the radio. At the time, dispatchers thought it was a prank call. Police only began searches hours later when one of the teens parents reported their son missing. It's caused controversy here. Police released the recording as tens of thousands of Israelis attended a funeral for the three teens.

RACHELI FRANKEL: (Foreign language spoken).

ESTRIN: Racheli Frankel is the mother of Naftali Frankel, a dual American-Israeli citizen, killed with Shaar and Eyal Yifrach. She eulogized the boys. She said God chose them to be his poster children for goodness and innocence. Israeli cabinet ministers have been debating a response to the killings, possibly including more strikes against the Gaza Strip which Hamas rules. But Kobi Michael, a researcher at an Israeli think tank says Hamas is the only group in Gaza that can keep order there, and Israel has to be careful not to create a power vacuum.

KOBI MICHAEL: In order to preserve Hamas to remain as a responsible address in reality when there is no other address.

ESTRIN: Michael says Israel should convince Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to break off a recent deal between Hamas and the mainstream Fatah faction for a unity government. That concerns Husam Zomlot, a senior Fatah official.

HUSAM ZOMLOT: This answer then, harms the national interest of the Palestinians. And I see someone - God knows who - has decided to bring us back to the confrontations and the violent chapters of our conflict.

ESTRIN: After the teen's funeral today, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, vowed again that Israel would make Hamas pay for the murders. For NPR News, I'm Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem.

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