Politicians across the spectrum condemned the murder of Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel after their bodies were found Monday night, and many called for war on Hamas.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein interrupted the Knesset meeting taking place in the evening, and all MKs with bills set to go to a vote pulled them. Tuesday’s Knesset committee meetings and votes were canceled as well.
“In this time I support the noble Shaer, Fraenkel and Yifrah families, which taught us all about love for the people of Israel and mankind,” Edelstein said. “Israel must fight an uncompromising war against terrorism, in general, and against Hamas, specifically.”
Edelstein added that the time had come for the Palestinians to learn that Hamas was leading them to the abyss, and to denounce the terrorist organization.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) said it was time for “action and not talk.”
“There is no forgiveness for those who murder children,” Bennett said. “Our hearts are with the families.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) said “the kidnapping and murder of innocent teens in the dead of the night is an unforgivable crime. It has no explanation or justification and I am convinced that the long arm of the security forces will reach the murderers.
We experienced painful, difficult terrorist attacks in the past and we overcame them, as we will now. That is life in this land.”
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud Beytenu) said Israel must “use all its strength to destroy the Hamas infrastructure in Gaza and Judea and Samaria. We must teach Hamas a lesson it will never forget.”
Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) said it was a time of mourning and that Israelis must continue to pray.
“In war we must strike the terrorists without mercy on the one hand, and give an appropriate Zionist response on the other. The eternal nation is not afraid of a long journey,” Ariel said, referring to the title of a ruling by the iconic religious-Zionist Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said the kidnapping’s tragic ending should bring tragedy to Hamas as well.
“We must exterminate terrorism,” Danon declared. “We must destroy the houses of Hamas members, destroy their arsenals wherever they are, and stop money that is being used directly and indirectly to keeping the flame of terrorism burning. We must deter every organization that thinks it will kidnap an Israeli citizen or threaten Israel.”
Meretz leader Zehava Gal- On and her party’s MKs sent their condolences to the families, calling for restraint.
“Kidnapping and murdering teens is a war crime that must be punished to the full extent of the law,” Gal-On said. “At the same time, in these moments we must differentiate between those who are responsible for the criminal act and the Palestinians who rejected it, like Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas... We must take diplomatic action that will strengthen the moderates.”
Other politicians gave more restrained responses, focusing more on the families and less on what action the IDF should take.
“What we feared most has tragically happened,” President- elect Reuven Rivlin said.
“Our hearts were clenched with concern, but we refused to give up hope that even these murderous terrorists will spare the lives of the boys.... But our hopes were not answered. Our hearts and thoughts are with the heroic families who will forever remain in our hearts as a beacon of courage and faith in their most tragic hour.”
Education Minister Shai Piron (Yesh Atid) expressed deep sorrow over the murder and said he was embracing the families during this difficult time. He issued instructions to the ministry to reinforce and increase the counseling and psychological staff to accompany students at the yeshivot where the victims studied, and to provide all the assistance required.
Shas leader Arye Deri said: “God will avenge the blood” of the three victims.
“All of Israel is mourning tonight with the three bereaved families who showed us all what faith and strength through Judaism means,” Deri said. “Their strong spirit is an example to all of us.”
Lidar Grave-Lazi contributed to this report.