Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel (L-R)..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An Israel-based NGO has penned a letter to US Attorney- General Eric Holder calling for the extradition of a senior Hamas official who claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and slaying of Israeli teens Nafatli Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah in June.
In a meeting of Islamic clerics in Istanbul on Wednesday, Hamas commander Salah al-Aruri who is living in exile in Turkey, touted the “heroic action of the Kassam Brigades who kidnapped three settlers in Hebron.”
The civil rights group Shurat HaDin (The Israel Law Center), which litigates against terror groups on behalf of American victims of terror, called on the US to bring Aruri to justice.
In the letter, the group called on the Department of Justice to “take all necessary steps to compel the government of Turkey to extradite” Aruri.
Citing “compelling evidence” that the Hamas official was behind the attack, which killed 16-year-old Naftali Frenkel – who was an American citizen – the NGO called for an investigation into the incident.
“We are confident that an investigation into the evidence of the kidnapping and murder of Fraenkel will result in a strong foundation for the indictment and extradition of senior Hamas leader Aruri from Turkey,” the letter said.
Since the US and Turkey have an extradition agreement, Turkey is obligated to extradite the suspect if he “committed a criminal act that would be punishable by Turkey, had the offense been perpetrated within its territorial jurisdiction.” And as the letter states, the kidnapping and murder of Fraenkel falls into that category.
“The US is the only country that can bring Aruri to justice,” Shurat HaDin said.
In the video that was released to the public on Wednesday, the Hamas official said the group’s goal was to spark an intifada in the West Bank and Jerusalem, as well as within the 1948 borders.
He said that while there was “much speculation” that Israel had fabricated the charges that Hamas was behind the kidnapping, the Kassam Brigades had in fact carried out the attack.
Israel has long believed Hamas was behind the attack that spawned Israel’s ongoing military offensive in the Gaza Strip, now in its sixth week. But Hamas had previously denied these claims.
Two suspects in the kidnapping, Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha remain at large, while the suspected mastermind of the attack Hussam Kawasame was arrested on July 11.