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Tekoa Teens Latest Victims of Intifada
ICEJ NEWS - 05/09/2001
Early Wednesday morning, the badly mutilated bodies of two Israeli teenagers, both 14 and residents of Tekoa, in the Gush Etzion bloc south of Jerusalem, were found in a cave along a dry stream bed near the Judean Desert community.
The two youths, identified as Kobi Mandel and Joseph Ishran, apparently skipped classes yesterday to go hiking in the nearby wadi, but did return home last night. Search teams worked all night and found one body at the entrance of the cave at daybreak and the second inside. Reports from the scene indicate the two teens had been stoned and beaten to death, their heads and torsos crushed. Some sources said they also had been bound and stabbed. Mandel was a recent immigrant from Maryland, in the US. Their funerals were held this afternoon.
Some 100 goats belonging to the Tekoa community were also stolen overnight and may be related to the incident. Later today, IDF units entered a Palestinian police station near Tekoa and arrested 18 Palestinians suspected of involvement in the murders. Fifteen of the suspects are shepherds and farmers from the area, while the other three are from Hebron and confessed to stealing goats from Tekoa last night.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said "the heinous murder constitutes an additional escalation in Palestinian terror and violence against innocent civilians." He held the Palestinian Authority ultimately responsible, saying it must halt terror and "venomous incitement to murder against Israelis and Jews."
US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk also expressed US outrage over the killings, condemning "in the strongest possible terms, the vicious murder of two youths today, one of whom was... an American citizen... It is unacceptable that children have so often become the victims of this bloody conflict," Indyk said, adding, "It is time to put an end to this violence."
Palestinian officials refused to condemn the brutal slayings.
The deaths of the two Jewish youngsters followed close behind the killing of Arieh Agranionic, 48, by Palestinian terrorists early Tuesday morning as he guarded the Binyamin farm, a lonely outpost on an isolated hilltop 7.5 kilometers east of Itamar in Samaria. After shooting him at close range with Kalashnikov rifles, the gunmen stole his M-16 rifle and fled on foot to a waiting vehicle, which drove off in the direction of a nearby Arab village. A group affiliated with Fatah later claimed responsibility.
Agranionic, a volunteer guard, was the father of three children who had immigrated from Brazil in the late 1970s. His eldest son Oren said he was an early pioneer of Ariel, before moving on to other isolated settlements in search of peace and quiet. "I will carry out my father's dream and build the biggest farm in the entire area on that hilltop," he vowed.
In addition to the murder in Itamar, there were numerous shooting incidents yesterday, mostly in Judea/Samaria, but no Israelis were injured. In Gaza, Palestinians fired a mortar shell at Morag and gunshots at IDF positions at Neveh Dekalim's industrial site, while IDF patrols had a grenade and four firebombs thrown at them.
A Palestinian Police officer was killed and two others were wounded late Monday night near Samua in a shoot-out with the IDF. The Palestinians were reportedly trying to stop IDF forces from entering the southern entrance of an Arab village after an IDF patrol spotted armed uniformed Palestinian policemen and others reinforcing a position on the village.
In Gaza on Wednesday, Palestinians shot two mortar shells each at the Jewish communities of Nisanit and Kfar Aza in the morning, and another round at the latter settlement in the afternoon. In addition, an explosive device detonated today close to an IDF force in the Rafah region of southern Gaza, along the Egyptian border. At the same time, Palestinians threw a fragmentation grenade at the soldiers and opened fire. In an ensuing exchange of gunfire, Palestinian sources claim a woman and her three-month-old baby were hit by shrapnel. A rocket-propelled grenade was also fired at IDF forces and shots were fired at an Israeli car, both near Neveh Dekalim.
Palestinian commanders in Gaza said today that IDF tanks and bulldozers had entered PA-ruled areas east of Beit Hanoun and destroyed a Palestinian police post. The IDF said that an engineering force had entered 100 meters into Palestinian controlled area A near Beit Hanoun, in order to uproot trees behind which Palestinians hid to shoot at IDF forces. The uprooted areas were uninhabited and the force left the area when it had completed the task.
Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.