President Obama urged Israeli leaders not to “destabilize the situation” following the discovery of the bodies of three teenagers, including one American citizen, who were kidnapped by Hamas, according to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“As a father, I cannot imagine the indescribable pain that the parents of these teenage boys are experiencing,” Obama said in a prepared statement. “From the outset, I have offered our full support to Israel and the Palestinian Authority to find the perpetrators of this crime and bring them to justice, and I encourage Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue working together in that effort. I also urge all parties to refrain from steps that could further destabilize the situation. As the Israeli people deal with this tragedy, they have the full support and friendship of the United States.”
Netanyahu vowed retribution for Hamas, whom he blamed for the murders. “Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay,” Netanyahu said, per Haaretz.
A Hamas leader praised the kidnappers last week but would “neither confirm nor deny” that his organization was responsible. “Blessed be the hands that captured them,” Hamas’s Khalad Mashaal said, according to the Times of Israel. “This is a Palestinian duty, the responsibility of the Palestinian people. Our prisoners must be freed; not Hamas’s prisoners — the prisoners of the Palestinian people.”
PA president Mahmoud Abbas condemned the kidnapping, but Netanyahu faulted him for not breaking his alliance with Hamas. “If he is truly committed to peace and to fighting terrorism, then logic and common sense mandate that he break his pact with Hamas,” Netanyahu said. ”There can be no alliance with the kidnappers of children.”