U.S. lawmakers, quick to express condolences over the killing of three Jewish teenagers in Israel, have so far avoided calling for a specific U.S. response despite outrage in America’s pro-Israel community.
The teens disappeared in the West Bank more than two weeks ago and their bodies were found Monday afternoon. Israel suspects Hamas was involved and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already said the group “will pay” for the boys’ deaths.
One of the boys killed, 16-year-old Naftali Frenkel, was a dual Israeli-American citizen. Some of his extended family lives in New York, in Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey’s district.
“Our hearts are broken by this appalling act of terrorism against three innocent Israelis, and our prayers are with all of their family members in Israel and the United States,” Lowey said in an emailed statement. “President Abbas must make clear that such extremism will not be tolerated, and lead the effort to hold accountable every single person who played a role in this evil act.”
In general, lawmakers agreed with the statement issued by the White House — that the U.S. should actively assist the Israeli government in holding the perpetrators accountable. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Ted Deutch of Florida are in Israel and had planned to meet with the families Tuesday.
“We will continue to support the Government of Israel in its efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Ros-Lehtinen and Deutch said in a joint statement.
But those in Congress who have had little faith in the new Palestinian government took the opportunity to denounce it once more.
“The whole world should be sickened by the murder of the three Israeli teenagers and the fact that Hamas praised their abductions,” Democratic Rep. Steve Israel said in an email. “These innocent boys had a whole life ahead of them that was robbed by savage terrorists. I vehemently condemn the Palestinian Authority and the unity government created with Hamas’ backing.”