As of noontime today, the White House had not issued any statement on the Massachusetts teen murdered in the West Bank on Thursday.
Ezra Schwartz, 18, of Sharon, Mass., was a gap-year student attending Yeshivat Ashreinu in Beit Shemesh. He was in a van with five other friends taking food to IDF soldiers near the Gush Etzion junction when a Palestinian terrorist opened fire on cars stuck in traffic.
The terrorist then rammed his car into another vehicle and was arrested.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest and Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes spoke with reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Kuala Lumpur today, but neither mentioned the terrorist attack.
Yaakov Don, 49, a teacher and father of four, and Palestinian Shadi Arafeh, 24, of Hebron were also killed in the attack.
There was no statement from Secretary of State John Kerry. “We condemn these terrorist attacks against innocent civilians in the strongest possible terms,” Edgar Vasquez, a State Department spokesman, told The Jerusalem Post. “As we’ve made clear, we remain deeply concerned about the situation and continue to urge all sides to take affirmative steps to restore calm and prevent actions that would further escalate tensions.”
State Department press secretary John Kirby was asked about the crime during Thursday’s briefing, as the news was breaking.
“We’re certainly aware of reports that a U.S. citizen was killed in an attack in the West Bank today, but I don’t have any information right now to be able to confirm that,” he said.
But Kirby followed that up with words of condemnation for Israel in the sentence handed down to an Israeli cop videotaped beating a Palestinian teen from Florida, Tariq Khdeir.
The riot policeman was sentenced to 45 days of community service and a suspended four-month prison term.
“We were disappointed to learn that the Israeli police officer who severely beat American teenager Tariq Abu Khdeir in July of 2014 was spared prison time by an Israeli court yesterday,” Kirby said. “Given the clear evidence captured on videotape of the excessive use of force, it is difficult to see how this sentence would promote full accountability for the actions of the police officer in this case. We understand there is a possibility for the Israeli state prosecutor to appeal the decision, and we’re going to continue to follow that closely, as you might expect.”
“I’ll just state again, the safety, security, and protection of American citizens overseas is of paramount importance for this administration, and we have demonstrated repeatedly – we’ve demonstrated that repeatedly in cases all over the globe.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that the terrorists responsible for Thursday’s West Bank attack and the fatal stabbing of two in Tel Aviv would pay.
“There is no immunity for terrorists: We will hold them to account, we will exact a price from their families, we will destroy their homes, and we will cancel their citizenship,” Netanyahu said.
“Behind these terrorist attacks stands radical Islam, which seeks to destroy us, the same radical Islam that struck in Paris and threatens all of Europe,” he said. “Whoever condemned the attacks in France needs to condemn the attacks in Israel. It’s the same terror. Whoever does not do this is a hypocrite and blind.”