Dozens of people gathered in West Los Angeles on Monday night to hold a candlelight vigil for three Jewish teens who were found dead after being kidnapped in the West Bank earlier this month.
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The crowd gathered in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood after learning that the search for Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Eyal Yifrach, 16, and Gilad Shaar, 19, ended with the discovery of three bodies in a shallow grave near Hebron.
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Mourners embraced one another, sang songs and held Israeli flags.
Shaar's aunt said she found out about her nephew’s death in a phone call Monday morning.
“Yesterday night I had a feeling, a bad, bad feeling (in) my stomach,” said Leehy Shaar of West Los Angeles.
The teens vanished June 12 as they were headed home from school.
“It’s a very innocent, simple, routine scenario,” the aunt said.
Gilad Shaar was her brother’s only son, Leehy Shaar said.
A memorial service was planned for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills.
In Israel, the country has rallied around the families and the government, which has promised action against Hamas, the group believed responsible for the killings.
“It's a great tragedy for the families. After all, these were boys. In this case, Hamas crossed the red line,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
“They are a bunch of terrorists. And with terrorists, you can’t make any deals,” Hier added.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay."
Israel said it launched a series of airstrikes against targets in the Gaza Strip, NBC News reported. The military said the strikes hit 34 targets and injured four Palestinians across the Hamas-controlled territory.
Robert Kovacik contributed to this report.