Israel has released the names of the terrorist kidnappers behind the abduction of Israeli teens Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach almost two weeks ago.
The Israel Security Agency (ISA), also known as Shabak, confirmed that Marwan Kawasmeh and Amar Abu-Eisha, both Hamas terrorists, are responsible for the kidnappings. According to a statement by the ISA, security services were able to confirm less than 24 hours into the abductions that Hamas was behind the kidnappings.
The ISA named Kawasmeh and Abu-Isa as the masterminds behind the kidnappings. Hamas activists from Hebron, the two are now considered fugitives since their disappearance along with the three teens on the night of June 12.
In a joint operation, the IDF and ISA have been conducting wide-ranging sweeps of Hebron and surrounding Palestinian areas in order to apprehend the terrorist fugitives which they hope will lead them to the abducted youths.
Kawasmeh, a 29-year-old barber, has been previously arrested by Israel in connection to Hamas activities. Already at the age of 18, he was serving a 10 month sentence in prison for terrorist activities. Since his first arrest in August 2004, Kawasmeh has been arrested on four other occasions, as well as being held in administrative detention.
In 2010, Kawasmeh admitted to Israeli authorities that he was recruited to the military wing of Hamas in Hebron, of which he has been a member since 2009. According to the ISA, Kawasmeh took part in military training in the caves surrounding Hebron, assisted in recruiting youths to the terrorist organization, and was active in obtaining materials to produce explosives. He was imprisoned by Israel until March 2012 for these activities.
Abu-Eisha, a 32-year-old locksmith, was arrested by Israel for the first time in November 2005 and held in administrative detention until June 2006. He was arrested a second time in April 2007 and released shortly after.
According to the ISA, Abu-Eisha’s brother was also a terrorist who was killed in November 2005 during a botched terror attack. The brother was attempting to throw an explosive device at IDF forces when he died. Abu-Eisha’s father has been arrested several times by Israel for terrorist related activities.
In an official statement By Hamas, the Islamist movement accused Israel of attempting to “cover up” its failure in finding the two missing boys. The terror organization said Israel was acting out of “frustration” with its “failed” investigation.
Overnight Thursday, the IDF continued its search in Judea and Samaria, arrested nine Palestinians as part of Operation Brothers Keeper in the Hebron area. In addition, forces searched 40 additional sites for clues leading to location of the abducted youths, Israel Radio reported.
On Tuesday, IDF Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz said that “as time passes, the fear grows,” but stressed that Israel believes the three kidnapped teens are still alive.