“Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.” (Psalm 130:1-2)
Holding hope against hope, Israel continues to pray and wait expectantly for the return of its three kidnapped yeshiva students Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar, both 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, who went missing June 12 from a hitchhiking station near Hebron while on their way home from their yeshiva (Orthodox Jewish high school).
It has been over two weeks since the teens’ abduction and Israeli media is still full of news on the search for them.
On Thursday, Israeli authorities named two West Bank Palestinians, 32-year-old Amer Abu Aysha and 29-year-old Marwan Kawasme, as prime suspects in the kidnapping.
Both are known Hamas members and both have been missing from their Hebron homes since the kidnapping took place.
Abu Aysha’s mother said that if her son took part in the kidnapping, she was proud of him and hoped that he would continue to evade capture. (Times of Israel)
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Rachel Frenkel, the mother of Naftali, made a brief impassioned speech at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, imploring the United Nations and the world community to do everything possible to return the kidnapped boys to their families.
Emphasizing that having a son taken is every mother’s nightmare, she said, “Twelve days ago, my son Naftali, and two other teenage students, Eyal Yifrah and Gilad Shaar—whose mothers are sitting behind me—were kidnapped on their way home from school. Since then, we’ve heard nothing—no news, no sign of life.”
“My son Naftali is 16. He loves to play guitar and basketball. He’s a good student and a good boy—a combination of serious and fun. Eyal loves to play sports and cook. Gilad is an amateur pastry chef, and loves movies,” she said. “My son texted me—said he’s on his way home—and then he’s gone. Every mother’s nightmare is waiting and waiting endlessly for her child to come home.”
While thanking the body for positive steps that have been taken to condemn the attack and urging the international community to do more in their rescue, she spoke out against attempts to justify the abductions as the fruit of Palestinian Arab “frustration.”
“Mr. President, it is wrong to take children, innocent boys or girls, and use them as instruments of any struggle. It is cruel. This council is charged with protecting human rights. I wish to ask: Doesn’t every child have the right to come home safely from school?”
Frenkel spoke during the time slot allotted to the nongovernmental organization UN Watch, who had invited her to Geneva.
“UN Watch condemns the kidnapping of the three boys, which the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] rightly described as a war crime, and calls for their immediate, unconditional and safe return,” said Hillel Neuer, the executive director of UN Watch.
“This heinous act violates international humanitarian law, which prohibits targeting civilians and the taking of hostages. We are in awe of Mrs. Frenkel’s strength of spirit, and are grateful for the opportunity to offer her an international platform to appeal for the safe release of her son and the other two boys. We hope the international community will collectively heed her call,” he continued. (JP)
During the 90 minutes prior to her appearance, several nation representatives made wild claims against Israel, saying it has occupied Syria and Lebanon, is today participating in ethnic cleansing, and is an apartheid state.
Many of those condemning Israel for its widespread search of the boys are dictatorships with atrocious human rights records of their own, such as Libya, Pakistan, and Cuba.
To help raise global awareness of the plight of the three kidnapped teens, a social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Young Israel Upper West Side synagogue placed a 40-by-40-foot ad on the Times Square digital billboard.
The massive ad, which included color photos of Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal and the hashtag #bringbackourboys, pleaded for their safe return, reading:
“On June 12th, 2014, three teenage boys were kidnapped in Israel, one of them an American citizen. These boys are not soldiers. They are not fighters. They are not violent. These boys are our sons. Our brothers. Our grandchildren. Our nephews. Our friends. Please help create global awareness.”
“I just think word has to get out,” Young Israel of the West Side Rabbi Dovid Cohen said. “Anything to keep the story alive, that’s what we’re going to do.” (NY Post)
But efforts to raise awareness and pray for the boys’ safety are not welcomed in some circles.
In Hamburg, Germany, an 83-year-old Jewish man was attacked and injured by banner-waving BDS boycott supporters during a prayer vigil for them.