Israel's security cabinet, which held an emergency session late on
Monday and was due to meet again on Tuesday, was split on the scope
of any further action in the coastal enclave or in the occupied West
Bank, officials said. The United States and regional power-broker
Egypt urged restraint.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promised Hamas would pay after
the discovery of the three Jewish seminary students' bodies under
rocks near the West Bank city of Hebron on Monday.
The military said aircraft attacked 34 sites, mostly belonging to
Hamas, though its statement did not link the strikes to the
abductions. Palestinian medics said two people were slightly
The military cited 18 Palestinian rockets launched against Israel
from Gaza in the past two days.
The Islamist group has neither confirmed nor denied involvement in
the disappearance of the students as they hitchhiked near a Jewish
settlement on June 12 nor in the cross-border rocket salvoes from
The funerals of Gil-Ad Shaer and U.S.-Israeli national Naftali
Fraenkel, both 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19 were due to take place later
on Tuesday in the Israeli city of Modi'in, where they were to be
buried side-by-side. At the security cabinet meeting, the army
proposed "considered and moderate actions" against militants in the
West Bank, officials said. Any sustained campaign there could
undermine U.S.-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
But the cabinet did not agree on a future course of action at that
session, officials added. In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri
warned Israel against going too far.
"The response of the resistance has been limited, and Netanyahu must
not test Hamas's patience," said Abu Zuhri, whose group's arsenal
includes rockets that can reach Tel Aviv.
Netanyahu seized on the abduction to demand Abbas annul a
reconciliation deal he reached with Hamas, his long-time rival, in
April that led to a unity Palestinian government on June 2.
An Arab diplomat familiar with Egyptian mediation between Israel and
the Palestinians said that Cairo, echoing Washington, expected the
Netanyahu government to tread carefully. "I don't believe Israel is
ready, just yet, to change the status quo," he told Reuters on
condition of anonymity. "It can punish those who did the crime, but
should not get out of control with civilians who had nothing to do
with the crime." In the West Bank on Tuesday, an Israeli military
spokeswoman said troops opened fire at a man, identified by
Palestinian officials as Yousouf Al-Zagha, 19, who threw a grenade
at soldiers attempting to arrest a militant in Jenin refugee camp. A
Palestinian witness said Zagha was an innocent passerby.
The men Israel has accused of carrying out the abductions are still
at large. Israeli media said the break in the case came after their
relatives were interrogated.
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Troops set off explosions in the family homes of the alleged
abductors late on Monday, blowing open a doorway in one, an army
spokeswoman said. The other property was on fire after the blast.
Soldiers, who arrested one of the suspect's father and brothers,
ordered the inhabitants of the dwellings to leave before the
"This kind of act is a sin, whether you're a Muslim or Jew. They've
scared the kids so much," Um Sharif, the mother of one of the
alleged kidnappers, said about the damage to her home.
Hamas has been rocked by the arrest of dozens of its activists in an
Israeli sweep in the West Bank over the past three weeks during the
search for the teenagers that Israel said was also aimed at
weakening the militant movement. Up to six Palestinians died as a
result of the Israeli operation, local residents said
After news of the teenagers' deaths, condolence messages and
condemnation of the killings poured in from foreign leaders.
"The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms, this
senseless act of terror against innocent youths," President Barack
Obama said in a statement. "I also urge all parties to refrain from
steps that could further destabilise the situation."
Abbas condemned the abduction and pledged the cooperation of his
security forces, drawing criticism from Hamas and undercutting his
popularity among Palestinians angered by what they saw as his
collusion with Israel.
Hamas, which has maintained security control of the Gaza Strip since
the unity deal, is shunned by the West over its refusal to renounce
violence. The group has called for Israel's destruction, although
various officials have at times indicated a willingness to negotiate
a long-term ceasefire.
(Additional reporting by Dan Williams, Maayan Lubell and Ori Lewis
in Jerusalem, Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza and Noah Browning and Ali
Sawafta in Hebron; Editing by Ralph Boulton)
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