Obama condemns three teens' murders 'in strongest possible terms'
World leaders express condolences and condemn murders of the three kidnapped Israeli teens, whose bodies were found 18 days after they went missing.
U.S. President Barack Obama strongly condemned the murder of the three kidnapped Israeli teens, whose bodies were found on Monday, but called upon Israel and the Palestinians "to refrain from steps that could further destabilize the situation."
"I extend my deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel – who held Israeli and American citizenship," Obama said in a statement.
"As a father, I cannot imagine the indescribable pain that the parents of these teenage boys are experiencing. The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this senseless act of terror against innocent youth. From the outset, I have offered our full support to Israel and the Palestinian Authority to find the perpetrators of this crime and bring them to justice, and I encourage Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue working together in that effort. As the Israeli people deal with this tragedy, they have the full support and friendship of the United States."
British Prime Minister David Cameron also responded, saying "I am deeply saddened by the news that the bodies of the three Israeli boys kidnapped on 12 June have been found this evening. This was an appalling and inexcusable act of terror perpetrated against young teenagers. Britain will stand with Israel as it seeks to bring to justice those responsible. Tonight my thoughts and prayers are with the families of Gilad, Naftali and Eyal. No parent should have ever to suffer such heartache or grief."
Other condemnations came from the Vatican and the United Nations. In an unusually strong statement, the Vatican spokesman said Pope Francis, who visited Israel and the Palestinian territories in April, was united with the families of the victims who were suffering "unspeakable pain."
"The killing of innocent people is always a hideous and unacceptable crime, a grave obstacle on the path towards peace ...," Father Federico Lombardi said, calling the news of the deaths "terrible and dramatic."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the murderds a "heinous act by enemies of peace" that aim to entrench division and distrust and widen the Middle East conflict.
"There can be no justification for the deliberate killing of civilians," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement, adding that Ban "hopes Israeli and Palestinian authorities will work together to bring the perpetrators swiftly to justice."
Former British PM Tony Blair and Middle East Quartet envoy said, "I am shocked and appalled by the heinous and wicked kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers, and my heartfelt sympathy and condolences go to the families of Elad, Gilad Shaar, 16, from Talmon and Naftali Fraenkel."
"There can be no justification for this act, there can be no compromise with those responsible, and the whole international community should be united in condemning it."
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