TEL AVIV, Israel – Israeli security services last month arrested a Palestinian who they accuse of playing a key role in the kidnapping and murder of an American and two other teenagers, officials announced Wednesday. Hosam Qawasmeh, 40, was detained on July 11 by an elite Israeli police unit at the Shufat refugee camp in east Jerusalem. Gilad Shaar, 19, Eyal Yifrach, 16 and Israeli-born American citizen Naftali Fraenkel were killed in June.
Court documents and Israeli media said Qawasmeh had confessed to securing funding from Hamas for the operation but his lawyer could not be reached for comment by NBC News. The documents emerged only a few hours after Israel and Hamas agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire. Potential evidence of Hamas’ role in the June 12 kidnapping is significant because the episode is blamed for a cycle of violence that escalated into a ground war in Gaza that has killed nearly 1,900 Palestinians. Israel has lost 67 people, including three civilians. Israel is still hunting for two other suspects, one of whom is a brother of Qawasmeh.
- Lawahez Jabari and Alastair Jamieson