JERUSALEM, July 1 (Xinhua) -- The three Israeli teens whose bodies were found Monday evening were brought to rest side by side on Tuesday at a joint funeral held in Modi'in near Jerusalem.
Tens of thousands of people participated in the funeral, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, who eulogized the three, whose caskets were wrapped with Israeli flags.
"The whole nation has witnessed your inner strength and that of the rest of your family," Netanyahu told the bereaved families of Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gil-Ad Sha'ar, 16, and Naftali Frankel, 16, who were kidnapped in the West Bank on June 12.
Netanyahu had met with the families of the kidnapped teens several times in the past 18 days, during which Israeli security services were canvassing the West Bank for clues to their whereabouts. Their bodies were discovered by soldiers and civilian volunteers near Hebron on Monday evening.
The prime minister said that the three teens were "attacked by murderers who violated the decree 'never cast a hand on a child'", citing a biblical verse.
He praised the strength of the families and contrasted them to the attackers "who sanctify death."
Israeli President Shimon Peres talked about the unity of the Israeli people in the past two weeks and said the incident unraveled "the depth of our people and its resolute spirit."
He also said he is certain the Israeli security forces will apprehend them and Israel will respond harshly.
"Terrorism is a boomerang," Peres said, adding that "it is aimed against us and will hurt those who cast it."
Before the joint funeral, the families conducted separate ceremonies in their home communities in the West Bank settlements of Elad, Talmon and Nof Ayalon.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said at the ceremony held in the memory of Eyal Yifrach that the three boys were killed because they were Jewish, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Many in Israel followed the developments of the kidnap attack closely and vigils were held on Monday night amid the discovery of the three teens' bodies. A large gathering was held at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday calling to "bring back our boys," one day before the bodies were found.
Last week, the Shin Bet Security Agency named two suspects in the kidnapping as Marwan Kawasmeh, 29, and Amar Abu-Isa, 32, two Hamas operative from Hebron. Hamas officials denied any connection to the kidnap.
In the past two weeks Israeli security forces operated in the West Bank searching for the teens and their kidnappers in operation dubbed "Brother's Keeper." More than 420 Palestinian suspects were arrested and more than four Palestinians were killed in clashes with the Israeli security forces.
Netanyahu and his ministers have yet to decide how to respond to the attack and the prime minister will convene his ministers for a cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss the possible courses of action.