By Ze’ev Ben-Yechiel
Hussam Hassan Qawasme, the Hamas mastermind behind the June kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens, has been indicted, according to a statement released today by Israel’s Shin Bet security forces. The IDF military court announced the indictment Thursday morning, nearly two months after Qawasme was arrested for his suspected role in the terror attack. A number of family members have also been implicated for assisting him in the crime.
On June 12, Hamas terrorists from Hebron kidnapped Gil-Ad Sha’er, 16, Naftali Frenkel 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, while the three were hitchhiking at Gush Etzion Junction, and shot them dead shortly thereafter when they realized that one of the teens had called the police.
According to the indictment Qawasme, a senior Hamas operative, received funding for the operation from his brother Mahmoud, a Hamas terrorist who was released to Gaza in the Gilad Schalit deal. Hussam Qawasme obtained total of at least 150,000 shekels to use for the attack, at least some of which is believed to have been transmitted by his mother and another woman who was not named.
The investigation revealed that the money was used to purchase the vehicles used in the kidnapping, as well as two M-16 assault rifles and two handguns, the latter of which were used to kill the teens. The vehicle used in the kidnapping itself was burned near the town of Dura, while the getaway vehicle was abandoned in Hebron.
The two main suspects in the actual kidnap and murder, Marwan Qawasme, a relative of Hussam, and Amar Abu Aisha, remain at large. In his confession, Hassam Qawasme named others who helped hide the two suspects.
Following the murders, Hussam and Marwan Qawasme took the bodies of the victims and transported them to a field purchased by Hussam several months prior to the attack, where they buried them.
When the bodies of the missing teens were found on June 30, Qawasme went into hiding, and planned to enlist the help of family members to flee to Jordan. The Shin Bet named these as Hisham Qawasme, 35, Jamil Qawasme, 28, and Hassan Qawasme, 45, who all currently in Israeli custody.
The ringleader was found and arrested on July 11 while hiding in the Shuafat refugee camp.
The Shin Bet said that Hussam is “the son of a family whose sons have been involved in severe terror attacks on behalf of Hamas.” His brother Hassin was involved in the bombing near the International Convention Center in Jerusalem in March 2011 and is currently serving a life sentence. Mahmoud Qawasme, another brother of Hussam, served 20 years in prison for assisting in the 2004 suicide attack in Be’er Sheva that killed 16 Israelis.
Two other brothers were also implicated for helping Hussam organize the kidnap and murder of the three teens.
Tazpit News Agency