Congress Considers $5 Million Reward for Information on Israeli Teens’ Deaths

The House and Senate bills create a cash incentive for intelligence on possible terrorist involvement.

Israelis mourns and light candles in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on June 30, 2014 after the announce that the bodies of the three missing Israeli teenagers were found. Israel confirmed finding the bodies of three teenagers who disappeared in the southern West Bank on June 12, blaming the Islamist Hamas movement for their kidnapping and murder.
National Journal
Clara Ritger
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Clara Ritger
July 15, 2014, 5:52 p.m.

Grap­pling for a way to as­sist Is­rael, law­makers will con­sider le­gis­la­tion that would re­quire the State De­part­ment to of­fer as much as $5 mil­lion for in­form­a­tion on the kid­nap­ping and murder of a U.S.-Is­raeli dual cit­izen, whose killing along with two oth­er boys has sparked days of re­lent­less fight­ing between Is­rael and Hamas.

The Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee will de­bate and mark up the bill on Wed­nes­day. A com­pan­ion bill in the House had not yet been put on the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee cal­en­dar.

“The Is­raeli gov­ern­ment’s re­cent ac­tion against Hamas is a just and ap­pro­pri­ate mis­sion to both bring the ter­ror­ists re­spons­ible to justice and to de­grade their cap­ab­il­ity to launch fur­ther at­tacks,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, the lead spon­sor of the Sen­ate bill.

“Giv­en [Naf­tali Fraen­kel’s] cit­izen­ship, I be­lieve the United States should demon­strate our clear sup­port for Is­rael by of­fer­ing a re­ward as we tra­di­tion­ally have in ter­ror­ist at­tacks in­volving Amer­ic­ans,” Cruz ad­ded. “This sup­port should be un­der­stood in the con­text of our part­ner­ship with the na­tion of Is­rael in the fight against rad­ic­al Is­lam­ic ter­ror­ism, which is our fight as well.”

The U.S. has offered cash re­wards for in­tel­li­gence on in­ter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ist activ­ity through the Re­wards for Justice pro­gram in the Bur­eau of Dip­lo­mat­ic Se­cur­ity at the State De­part­ment since 1984. More than $125 mil­lion has been paid to roughly 80 people who provided ac­tion­able in­form­a­tion that led to the ar­rest of sus­pec­ted ter­ror­ists or the pre­ven­tion of ter­ror­ist activ­ity.

Tra­di­tion­ally, the de­cision to re­com­mend to the sec­ret­ary of State that a re­ward be offered is left up to the fed­er­al agen­cies in­volved in a ter­ror­ism case, al­though Con­gress has weighed in on pre­vi­ous in­cent­ives, such as when the Sen­ate voted in 2007 to double the re­ward for Osama bin Laden.

This case is dis­tinct in that the United States is look­ing to as­sist an­oth­er coun­try as it searches for more in­form­a­tion about the kid­nap­ping of three teen­agers — Fraen­kel as well as Is­rael­is Gil­ad Shaer and Ey­al Yi­frah.

“The fact that one of the three boys was Amer­ic­an is sig­ni­fic­ant,” said Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Doug Lam­born of Col­or­ado, the primary spon­sor of the House bill. “It’s im­port­ant that Amer­ica show re­solve and bring to justice those who kill Amer­ic­ans abroad.”

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