NEW: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Hamas is responsible, "will pay"
NEW: Israel has arrested hundreds, demolished homes, closed institutions, he adds
A little-known group supporting the "Islamic State" claims responsibility for teens' deaths
The 3 teens are remembered as "gifted, pure, honest and decent" at their funeral
Mourning three Israeli teenagers at their funeral Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised his nation will avenge their deaths at “the hands of evil men” and show its strength in the process.
“Throughout the history of our people, we have proved time and again – in view of the horrors that we have experienced, the grief and sorrow – the force of life that pulsates within us overcomes the forces of death,” he said in Hebrew, according to a CNN translation.
The Israeli leader lamented the killings of the three “gifted, pure, honest and decent teens,” bloodshed that he said shows “a broad moral gulf (that) separates us from our enemies.”
“They sanctify death, we sanctify life,” Netanyahu said, comparing the teens to those who killed them. “They sanctify cruelty, and we mercy and compassion. That is the secret of our strength.”
A short time later – after the burials of Eyal Yifrach, 19; Gilad Shaar, 16; and Naftali Frankel, a 16-year-old dual U.S.-Israeli citizen, by each other in Modiin – the Prime Minister spoke again about the three before a security cabinet meeting, saying, “May God avenge their blood.”
“Whoever was involved in the kidnapping and the murder will bear the consequences,” Netanyahu said Tuesday evening. “We will neither rest nor slacken until we reach the last of them. And It does not matter where they will try to hide.”
These actions are well underway. The Israeli leader noted that, already, hundreds of Hamas activists have been arrested, dozens of institutions in Gaza have closed and homes have been demolished.
This is along with stepped-up airstrikes in Gaza – Palestinian land controlled by Hamas, a militant Islamic organization that denied it is behind the abductions.
The Israeli military said it launched 34 strikes targeting terror infrastructure targets since Sunday evening in response to 18 rockets from Gaza.