News of the three kidnapped Israeli teens by terrorists has shaken Israel and Jews around the world to the core. On Saturday, as part of personal efforts to help the missing teens, thousands of people gathered at the Western Wall in Jerusalem for a mass prayer rally to pray for the safe return of the three boys.
Prayer Rally at the Western Wall
Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef and several members of Knesset attended the emergency rally. Rabbi Yosef led the masses in reciting Psalms, praying for the release of the abducted teen. Similar prayer rallies were held around Israel Saturday night, including at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Frenkel, 16, a dual Israeli-American citizen, were last seen hitchhiking in Judea near a popular pickup point near Hebron Thursday night. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that “our boys were kidnapped by a terrorist organization.”
The brother of Eyal Yifrah led an emotional prayer service in honor of his brother and his friends in his hometown of Elad.
Brother of missing youth prays for his return
At the start of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu confirmed that the kidnappers were affiliated with Hamas.
“This morning I can say what I was unable to say yesterday before the extensive wave of arrests of Hamas members in Judea and Samaria,” he said. “Those who perpetrated the abduction of our youths were members of Hamas – the same Hamas that Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] made a unity government with; this has severe repercussions.”
The kidnapping attack comes a week after Hamas leaders called on members of its armed wing to rise up and carry out terror attacks against Israelis and IDF soldiers in Judea and Samaria.
According to the IDF and revealed by Netanyahu, the boys were last heard from around 10:00 pm, Thursday night. The IDF has conducted sweeping raids in Palestinian cities in Judea and Samaria. On Saturday night, IDF forces arrested 80 known terrorists as part of intelligence sweeps to gain information on the kidnapped teens.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon announced a full closure on Hebron, with only emergency and humanitarian cases allowed permission to leave the heavily Palestinian populated city. All crossings in and out of Gaza have also been shut down.
The Israeli government also cancelled all visits to Palestinian prisoners who are serving time in Israeli jails. In addition, some 5,000 permits for Palestinian workers who travel each day into Israel for work were frozen.
Ya’alon said that the military would not rest until the teens were safely returned home.
“The IDF and general intelligence services were engaged in a complex and wide-ranging effort. This complex task demands from all of us patience, steadfastness, responsibility and discretion,” he stated on Twitter.
Netanyahu has been in constant contact with family members of the abducted teens. “We are in the midst of a widespread operation to locate and bring back the three young yeshiva students. I spoke with their parents, and I told them that we are doing everything possible and more to bring back their boys, who are also our boys,” the prime minister said.
Palestinians in Gaza have taken to the streets in celebration of the successful kidnapping of the three boys. Men and women are reportedly handing out candies and cookies to passerby’s.
The terrible news of the abducted teens has spurred a viral campaign on social media, prompting awareness and prayer on behalf of the three boys. On Facebook and Twitter, the hashtag #BringBackOurBoys (similar to the #BringBackOurGirls campaign of the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls) quickly spread as details of the missing teens became known.
We ask that you please keep Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali in your prayers. Their Hebrew names are:
Eyal ben Irit Teshua
Gilad Michoel ben Bat Galim
Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devora