Two Palestinian Hamas terrorists are to blame for the recent kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, according to Israeli authorities.
The two kidnappers, Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasme, both known members of Hamas, are seemingly on the run and at large. They have not been seen at home in their West Bank Hebron neighborhood since the kidnapping took place on the night of June 12.
The two suspects are said to be observant Muslims who regularly attended prayers at the same mosque in Hebron’s Hares neighborhood.
Israeli authorities said they knew almost immediately the identities of the kidnappers, but they chose to withhold that information as the IDF conducted its search efforts over the past two weeks.
The suspects are alleged to have been in the car from which teenagers Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach, and American citizen Naftali Frankel were abducted. Authorities believe the young men were near the Israeli territory of Alon Shvut, near Jerusalem, when they were kidnapped.
Aysha, 32, reportedly works as a locksmith. According to his father, he was last seen at a family gathering just hours prior to the kidnapping. His father Omar pled ignorance, claiming he and his family had no idea why Aysha left abruptly and then kidnapped the three teenagers. Aysha’s mother said he was a “family man,” but then she said she was proud of him for kidnapping the teenage boys; she wished him luck in evading Israeli authorities. Aysha’s brother Zayd, who was also a member of the Hamas Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated terrorist organization, was killed in 2005 while attacking IDF soldiers in Hebron.
Kawasme, 29, works as a barber. He has been detained by both Palestinian security authorities and Israeli forces in the past. His uncle, once a high-ranking commander with Hamas, was killed in 2003 during clashes with an Israeli SWAT team.
Hamas still denies involvement in the kidnapping of the three boys.
Israel currently has 1,500 soldiers in the Hebron region deployed in efforts to find the kidnapped teens.