The 21st Century Phenomenon


3kidsOn 06/12/2014, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped at the bus/hitch-hiking stop at Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion, in the West Bank, as they were hitchhiking to their homes. The three teens were Naftali Fraenkel, 16, from Nof Ayalon, Gilad Shaer 16, from Talmon, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, from Elad. Gilad Shaer managed to call the police emergency hotline to report the kidnapping.The emergency call recording, initially under a gag order, was leaked to the public. After Gilad Shaer’s whispered message “They kidnapped me”, the taped call also recorded shouting in Arabic from the kidnappers and several volleys of automatic gunfire.

The Israel Defense Forces launched a search operation ‘Brother’s Keeper’. As part of the operation, in the following 11 days Israel arrested around 350 Palestinians, including nearly all of Hamas’ West Bank leaders. Five Palestinians were killed in sporadic clashes with the IDF during the military operation. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, on 06/15/2014, that the teens had been kidnapped by Hamas – which Hamas denied. On 06/30/2014, search teams found the bodies of the three missing teenagers in a field north-west of Hebron just 15 k”m South West from the location of the kidnapping. They had apparently been killed shortly after their abduction.


On 06/26/2014, the Israel Security Agency (ISA) – Shin.Bet released the identities of two Hamas suspects in the kidnapping Marwan Kawasmeh (R) and Amar Abu Aysha (L). Both Shin.Bet  and the Palestinian authorities said that the two married men, who already spent time in Israeli jail for minor terror charges, have been missing since the night of the kidnapping, and the Shin.Bet stated that both had engaged in terrorism, been arrested, and served time in the past, and were considered suspects immediately after the kidnapping. A senior Palestinian intelligence official said off the record that their disappearance constituted clear evidence the two suspects have links with the abduction.


On 08/05/2014, Israel said that it had arrested Hussam Qawasmeh, 40, who is suspected of having organized the killing of the three teenagers already on 07/11/2014. By the time of his arrest, Kaswasme had shaved his beard and received a fake passport, in what is believed to be, part of a plan to escape to Jordan. According to court documents, Hussam Qawasmeh, a known Hamas operative who was jailed for terror activity and released in 03/2012. stated that Hamas members in Gaza financed the recruitment and arming of the killers.  Hussam Kawasme said that after the boys were killed, Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha drove to his house, and they proceeded to bury them in Halhoul, the land Kawasme purchased only a few weeks prior to the event.


On 08/20/2014, a Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri said that the organization’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was behind the kidnapping and murder. Saleh al-Arouri, one of the founders of Hamas’s military wing, made his comments at a conference in Istanbul, where he lives in exile.  A day later, on 08/21/2014, leader Khaled Mashal claimed Hamas leadership had no prior knowledge of the abductions and murders and had learned about them through the Israeli military.


Marwan Kawasmeh, 30, and Amar Abu Aysha, 32, were killed by the IDF in a shootout, on 09/23/2014, in Hebron resisting their arrest.


On 01/06/2015, Hussam Qawasmeh was jailed and sentenced to three life terms in prison for the murders.

The investigation concluded that the kidnapping operation’s costs ran to NIS220,000, a sum procured by Hussam Kawasmeh, with the assistance of his brother, Mahmoud Kawasmeh, who was exiled to the Gaza Strip in the Gilad Shalit exchange in 11/2011, to purchase the two vehicles and weaponry. The cars were purchased from Nuh Abu-Eisha, the weapons from Hamas operative Adnan Mahmad Izzat Zru (34) both Hebronites. His attempt to escape to Jordan, thwarted when he was arrested in the Shuafat refugee camp, He was assisted by his relatives Hisham Kawasmeh (45), Jamil Kawasmeh (/38) and Hassan Kawasmeh (45) a Hamas militant. Two other Hebronites, Ahmad Ibrahim Mahmad Kawasmeh (64) and his brother, senior Hamas operative Arafat Ibrahim Mahmad Kawasmeh (50) assisted Marwan Kawasmeh and Amar Abu Aysha, the two perpetrators of the kidnapping, in going into hiding, and latter concealed them on their property.


Operation ‘Brother’s Keeper’ spiraled yet another war with Hamas in Gaza Stripp – known as Operation ‘Protective Edge’.’


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