On June 12, 2014, Eyal Yifrach (19), Gil-ad Shaar (16), and Naftali Fraenkel (16) were abducted and killed by Palestinian terrorists while on their way home from a Gush Etzion bus stop.
The IDF (Zahal) launched Operation Brother’s Keeper in order to find the three boys, their kidnappers, and to weaken Hamas infrastructure in Palestinian cities and villages including Hebron, Nablus, Ramallah, and Jenin.
Eyal Yifrach (19), Gil-ad Shaar (16), and Naftali Fraenkel (16)
Two Hamas operatives, Marwan Kawasme (29) and Amer Abu Aysha (32), carried out the abduction. Both had an extensive history of terrorist activity.
On June 30, 2014, after 18 days of searches and complex intelligence efforts, Yifrach, Shaar, and Fraenkel were finally found. Their bodies were discovered buried in a field owned by the Kawasme family, situated northwest of Hebron. The kidnappers’ vehicle was also recovered, ridden with blood stains and bullet cases.
On August 5, 2014, Israeli security officials announced that the mastermind behind the attack, Hussam Kawasme (Marwan Kawasme’s uncle), was arrested on July 11th. He played a pivotal role in providing the funding and equipment for the kidnapping as well as assisting in burying the bodies, disposing of the evidence, and hiding the terrorists.
Marwan and Hussam Kawasme come from a family with a longstanding tradition of committing terrorist attacks. The ‘Kawasme Family’ Clan is responsible for several suicide bombings, including two suicide attacks on Jerusalem buses in 2003, killing more than 40 Israelis.
On September 23, 2014, the IDF (Zahal) sent personnel to Kawasme and Abu Aysha’s hideout in northwest Hebron with the purpose of apprehending the suspects. Kawasme and Aysha opened fire on Israeli forces who then managed to neutralize the kidnappers, thus ending a three-month long manhunt.
Hamas continues to incite violence and call for kidnappings. In July 2013, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh publicly lauded “the brave resistance, which has kidnapped and held [Israelis] captive, while liberating [Palestinian prisoners].” Statements made as recently as May 2015 by Abdullah Barghouti, the commander of Hamas’ military wing in the West Bank, called for kidnappings of Israelis.
According to ISA reports, between January 2013 to June 2014, Israel foiled 64 planned abduction attempts. Due to this incitement, the threat of terrorist kidnappings in Israel continues to be eminent.