Israel’s Channel 2 News has produced footage of a senior Hamas leader claiming responsibility for the murder of the three Israeli teenagers, Naftali Frenkel, Gil-ad Sha’ar and Eyal Yifrach.
The recording of Hamas official Sheikh Saleh al-Arouri was apparently made during a conference in Turkey. It is the first admission of guilt by Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
“I praise the brave action that the al-Qassam Brigades carried out, the kidnapping of the three settlers to Hebron,” said al-Arouri. He added that it was probably done on behalf of Palestinian inmates hunger striking in Israeli prisons.
The video clip is currently only available in Arabic with Hebrew subtitles.
Previously some western journalists and media outlets had suggested that Hamas may not have been behind the abduction and subsequent killing of the three teenagers.
Last month an Israeli government spokesman called into question Hamas’s involvement by saying the group who carried out the kidnapping could have been a rogue cell loosely affiliated to Hamas, but operating without the central leadership’s knowledge.