Two men believed to have kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers in June — which helped to spark a seven-week-long deadly conflagration between Israel and Hamas — were reportedly killed in a confrontation with Israeli troops in the West Bank on Tuesday. From the Times:
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner of the Israeli military said Marwan Qawasmeh, 29, and Amer Abu Aisha, 33, “came out shooting” around 6 a.m. as troops breached a two-story structure in Hebron where the suspects had been holed up for a week. “In that exchange, one of them was killed on the spot,” Colonel Lerner said. “We have one confirmed kill and the second assumed killed. Because of how he fell back into the void and the grenades that we threw after him, it’s very unlikely that he survived.”
The IDF, for its part, did not hesitate to trumpet the operation as a major success:
IDF Chief of Staff: "We promised the families that we would find the murderers. This morning, we did just that." pic.twitter.com/1kaVbnYXJr— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) September 23, 2014
The disappearance and deaths of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach captivated the small country where kidnappings have long brought politically disparate communities together. The three-week search for the teens ended with the discovery of their bodies north of Hebron, leading to a reprisal murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem, along with sustained riots in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and eventually intensified rocket fire from Gaza and outright war. Over 2,000 people died in the ensuing violence.
The news of the deaths of Qawashma and Abu Aisha came as Palestinian and Israeli delegations were meeting in Cairo to iron out the details of the ceasefire that ended the summer's hostilities. As Reuters reported, a senior Hamas leader said the negotiations would continue, despite the IDF operation.
After consultations within the Palestinian delegation and brothers in Gaza and abroad it was decided to continue the Cairo meetings."