Israel names two prime suspects, Hamas activists, in kidnapping of teenagers
Israel’s Shin Bet security agency yesterday announced that Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha, two longstanding Hamas activists from the Hebron region, are the prime suspects wanted in connection with the abduction of three Israeli teenagers.
Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel, both 16, were kidnapped two weeks ago while hitchhiking in the West Bank. Since then, Israel has conducted a large-scale military operation to locate the missing teenagers especially targeting Hamas activists, with arrests made across the West Bank, particularly in the Hebron area. The homes of Kawasme and Abu Aysha, who both disappeared hours before the kidnapping, have been among those searched repeatedly.
Kawasme, 29, has been arrested several times for Hamas-related activity and spent 10 months in an Israeli prison. When questioned in 2010, he reportedly confessed to having undergone Hamas military training. Abu Aysha, 32, was first arrested in November 2005 and has been detained on several occasions since then by Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). His brother was killed in November 2005 while trying to throw an explosive at Israeli soldiers and his uncle commanded the Hamas military wing in Hebron.
The Shin Bet said that although it and the IDF “have been carrying out a wide-scale search aimed at capturing the wanted suspects … The first aim is to track down the location of the abducted youths.” Speaking yesterday at a graduation ceremony for new pilots, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that with the names of the Hamas suspects having been released, “I now expect President Abbas, who said important things” in condemning the kidnapping, “to stand by those words and to break his pact with the Hamas terrorist organisation.”
As for the operation itself, Israel Radio news this morning reports that nine further arrests were made last night and that around 40 properties were searched in the Hebron area. In addition, IDF soldiers in Beituna uncovered two handguns while troops in Aidana found and confiscated an explosive device.
36 MPs sign Early Day Motion about kidnapped Israeli teenagers
Since we asked activists to contact their MPs on Monday, the number of MPs signing Early Day Motion (EDM) 148, which calls for the release of the kidnapped Israeli teenagers, has risen to 36.
You can see which MPs have signed it here: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/148
Whilst 36 is a respectable number compared to most other EDMs this session, and some MPs are unable to sign as they are Ministers or Shadow Ministers, or don’t sign EDMs as a matter of general policy, we still think that it would be good to get more signatures to show the House of Commons shares our concern about the safety of the boys.
If your MP hasn’t signed yet and you haven’t already written to them, please encourage them to sign EDM 148 by sending them a simple email saying something along these lines:
“I am writing as one of your constituents to urge you to sign EDM 148, which calls for the immediate release of the three Israeli teenagers kidnapped in the West Bank. The text of the EDM is here: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/148."
You can find your MP and their contact details here: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/. Please email me at email@example.com to let me know which MP you have contacted and their response.
Director, We Believe in Israel