Israel hits Hamas after teens' deaths

ISRAEL bombed dozens of sites in the Gaza Strip yesterday, striking at Hamas after finding the bodies of three missing teenagers whose abduction and killing it blames on the Palestinian Islamist group.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promised Hamas would pay after the discovery of the three Jewish seminary students' bodies under rocks near the West Bank city of Hebron on Monday.

The military said aircraft attacked 34 sites, mostly belonging to Hamas, though its statement did not link the strikes to the abductions. Palestinian medics said two people were slightly wounded.

The military cited 18 Palestinian rockets launched against Israel from Gaza in the past two days.

The Islamist group has neither confirmed nor denied its involvement in the disappearance of the students as they hitchhiked near a Jewish settlement on June 12.

Gilad Shaer and US-Israeli national Naftali Fraenkel, both 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, were to be buried side by side in the Israeli city of Modi'in.

An Arab diplomat expected the Netanyahu government to tread carefully.

"I don't believe Israel is ready, just yet, to change the status quo," he told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

"It can punish those who committed the crime, but should not (let things) get out of control with civilians who had nothing to do with the crime."

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