Thousands of Palestinians mourned the deaths Tuesday of two Palestinian men suspected of kidnapping and killing three Israeli students in June, the Jerusalem Post reports. A massive funeral procession honoring Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abuysha moved through the streets of Hebron, featuring mourners waving Palestinian and Hamas flags. Both Hamas affiliated terrorists were killed after they opened fire on Israeli troops moving in to arrest them.
Many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza celebrated the initial kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach, 19, and 16-year-olds Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel, in June. The terrorists were previously jailed in both Palestinian Authority and Israel and actively involved in terrorist activities on behalf of Hamas.
"We promised the families that we would find the murderers. This morning, we did just that," IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said Tuesday morning.
The families of the victims thanked Israeli troops for locating the Hamas suspects today, saying that an "evil circle has been closed" with their demise, the Times of Israel reports.
Israeli politicians also praised the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for carrying out the raid. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement vowing that Israel "will continue to hit terror everywhere."
"This is a clear message to all of our enemies that we will settle the score with any terrorist, no matter where they are hiding," Israeli MK Danny Danon said.
Hamas officials initially denied involvement in the boys' kidnapping and murders, and some media reports accused Netanyahu of taking advantage of the crime to go after Hamas infrastructure and members in the West Bank.
However, a senior Hamas official admitted in August that the terrorist organization was responsible for the abduction and murders. Salah al-Arouri, based in Turkey, praised the "heroic action of the Kassam Brigades (Hamas' military wing) who kidnapped three settlers in Hebron."
Hamas issued a statement after Tuesday's raid, praising Kawasme and Abuysha as martyrs, "and we stress that their assassination will not weaken the resistance."