3 Israeli kidnap victims found dead; How the previously-detained, Hamas-suspects slipped through Israeli hands

Israeli kidnap victims found dead: The Jerusalem Post reports  Head of search team that found bodies: This is a sad day 

A team of civilian volunteers found one body before alerting security forces, who then uncovered the other two.

Portraits of a kidnapper by Marissa Newman in Times of Israel, June 27

The Israeli press pieces together information about alleged abductors Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasme 
Amer abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasme- kidnapping suspects

The Shin Bet’s release of the names of suspected kidnappers Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasme on Thursday night dominated headlines in Friday’s Hebrew papers, which profile the Hamas operatives at length.

Haaretz, Yedioth Ahronoth, and Israel Hayom provide nearly identical accounts on Abu Aysha and Kawasme, both missing from their homes since June 12 — the day of the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gil-ad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16.

The papers report that the operatives were suspected by the Shin Bet immediately, and their houses in Hebron were raided in the days following the kidnapping. The two were well known to the Israeli authorities, the papers maintain, having been arrested and held in Israeli detention on multiple occasions for their alleged terrorism activity.

Kawasme was arrested five times, and in 2004, at the age of 18, spent 10 months in an Israeli prison. In 2010, in the course of an interrogation, Kawasme confessed to belonging to Hamas: He conceded that he had been involved in training operatives in caves around Hebron, that he oversaw the obtainment of materials to produce explosives, and that he recruited youngsters to the terror group. He was released in 2012.

Abu Aysha was arrested on two separate occasions, in 2005 and 2007, for involvement with the terror organization. His family has close ties to the organization.

Yedioth quotes a security official who maintains the two did not act alone, and that a number of detainees presently in custody may have assisted them. “It will take time, but eventually we will get our hands on them,” he said.

In an interview in Israel Hayom, Abu Aysha’s wife and father denied he was involved in the kidnapping — and, in his father’s case, denied there was a kidnapping at all.

“There are no kidnapped [teenagers] or anything. I’m sure my son is being held by the Jews. He disappeared two weeks ago, but I’m sure this is staged by Israel. The security forces are staging it. They were in our Hebron home on Saturday [June 14], two days after he disappeared, and they ransacked the entire house. Since then, his wife and children have been staying with us, because they are traumatized. We are sure the kidnapping issue is an Israeli show,” Abu Aysha’s father told the paper.

Read more: Portraits of a kidnapper | The Times of Israel

Haaretz’s Amos Harel, in an op-ed on the kidnappers, is critical of the Shin Bet, stating that the two were part of a cell “that was supposed to be under the constant surveillance of the Shin Bet.

The papers also cover the ongoing probe into the police call center that failed to respond appropriately to the call from one of the missing teens, who had contacted the center at 10:25 p.m. on June 12 and told them they had been kidnapped. According to the preliminary findings, the call center attempted to page the teenager’s cell phone eight times, but failed to check who the phone belonged to. Two senior officers were responsible for the misstep, the papers report, having concluded that the call was likely a prank.

Read more: Portraits of a kidnapper | The Times of Israel 

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