(JTA) – A senior Hamas official has acknowledged that the organization’s military wing was behind the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June.
In a video posted by Israeli media, Hamas spokesman Salach Al-Aruri told a conference organized by the World Association of Muslim Scholars that the armed wing of Hamas, the al-Qassam Brigades, was behind the kidnapping of Israeli teenagers Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach. According to the Jerusalem Post, Al-Aruri praised the “heroic action of the Qassam Brigades who kidnapped three settlers in Hebron.”
Hamas’s leadership had formerly denied any involvement with the kidnappings. Previous reporting in American and Israeli media had suggested that Hamas was either not involved or that the kidnapping was carried out by a rogue group within Hamas.
However, Israeli officials have long insisted that the Hamas organization in Gaza had ordered and financed the attack. Al-Aruri’s statement appears to validate that claim.