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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Wednesday, July 18, 2018

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Israel conducts aerial strikes after teens found dead

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TEL AVIV, Israel - Dozens of sites in the Gaza Strip were bombed Tuesday after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that "Hamas will pay" for the murder "in cold blood" of three Israeli teenagers who vanished in the West Bank.

Netanyahu said the three students had been "abducted and murdered in cold blood by human animals".

"Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay," he vowed.

But the Hamas, the militant Islamic organization that controls Gaza, has denied it was behind the abductions of the three students. It threatened that if Netanyahu "brings a war on Gazathe gates of hell will open to him."

The disappearance of the three Israeli teenagers set off an 18-day search that came to a bitter end Monday when their bodies were discovered under a small pile of rocks.

The Israeli military said the identities of the dead still were to be officially confirmed.

But CNN citing a senior official identified them as Eyal Yifrach, 19; Gilad Shaar, 16; and Naftali Frankel, a 16-year-old dual US-Israeli citizen.

The discovery prompted a stepped up offensive against Palestinian targets by Israeli military.

The military said it carried out 34 airstrikes in Gaza Tuesday, hitting "terror infrastructure" targets across Hamas-controlled territory.

Israel Defense Forces spokesman Motti Almoz told Army Radio that the strikes were in response to 18 rockets fired into Israel since late Sunday.

Almoz said the relatively extensive response in Gaza was meant to convey the message that Israel will not tolerate continued rocket fire.

"The war on terror continues. It didn't begin now and it will not be over soon," Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon of the Israel Defense Forces said. He vowed to pursue those responsible for the teenagers' deaths.

Palestinian medics meanwhile said Israeli troops opened fire and killed a Palestinian man

during an arrest raid in the occupied West Bank.

They said that the man was fatally shot in the chest, making him the sixth Palestinian to be killed by the Israeli military since the disappearance of the three teens, according to the CNN.

US President Barack Obama, Pope Francis and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the killings of teenagers.

"As a father, I cannot imagine the indescribable pain that the parents of these teenage boys are experiencing. The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this senseless act of terror against innocent youth," Obama said in a statement.

"From the outset, I have offered our full support to Israel and the Palestinian Authority to find the perpetrators of this crime and bring them to justice," he said.

"And I encourage Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue working together in that effort. I also urge all parties to refrain from steps that could further destabilize the situation."

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