LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Southland Jewish leaders Monday condemned the murders of three Israeli teens found dead after they were kidnapped by Hamas members nearly three weeks ago.
In a statement, officials with the Simon Wiesenthal Center expressed “condolences and total solidarity” with the families of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel, whose bodies were recovered after they disappeared while hitchhiking home near the West Bank city of Hebron late at night on June 12.
Dean Rabbi Marvin Hier and associate dean Abraham Cooper issued the statements after Israel announced late Monday that the teens’ bodies were found near Hebron, a Palestinian city roughly 19 miles south of Jerusalem, culminating a frantic two-week search.
The statement read: “This is not a time for ambiguity, but for decisive action. Those are our children who were murdered by Hamas. But make no mistake – the leadership of that terrorist organization is already planning the next attack against women and children.”
The center also called on the White House to take a stand against acts of terror against all Israelis and called on President Obama to send “an unmistakable message to President Abbas: Are you the leader of a government that seeks peace or the leader who accepts murderers of children as part of his government?”
David Siegel, Counsul General at the Israel Consulate in West Los Angeles, told KCAL9’s Greg Mills the world needs to show support for Israel and pressure Palestine to reject Hamas. He also promised swift action from the consulate, declining to offer further detail.
“We need to send a very, very significant message to Hamas – a terrorist organization. So you’re going to see a series of steps that will be very, very significant in the days ahead,” Siegel said.
“Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement, adding that the teens “were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by wild beasts.”
Netanyahu was meeting with his Security Cabinet to discuss a response.
The families of the victims are meanwhile struck with grief.
Leehy Shaer, who recently moved to Los Angeles, spoke to KCAL9’s Andrea Fujii about losing her nephew, Gilad. She said the 16-year-old was always smiling, loved life and taking care of his five sisters.
“They were just boys, just kids,” she said. “I don’t believe that he’s not here anymore, I don’t believe it.”
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