As the search for the three kidnapped teenagers — Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frankel — entered its third week, the parents of the kidnapped teenagers visited the site where their sons disappeared. Early Sunday afternoon, Brig.-Gen. Tamar Yadai, the commander of the Yehudah and Shomron Division, escorted them to the Tarkumiyah checkpoint and an IDF base, where they thanked the soldiers for their efforts in trying to bring back their sons.
The parents had been briefed on the progress of the search in a meeting with Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen, on Friday afternoon.
On Sunday night, tens of thousands of Israelis rallied on their behalf in Tel Aviv.
President-elect Reuven Rivlin addressed the crowd, calling for the public’s prayers and for Muslim leaders to condemn the kidnappings during their Ramadan observance.
The event was the first one organized by the “Bring Back Our Boys” Campaign.
“The rally expresses concretely what everyone here in Israel feels,” united in their desire to see the boys return home safely, Avi Frankel, father of Naftali, told Ynet.
Frankel added that he wishes to tell the people of Israel to “continue doing the good work that each person is doing — the public in its solidarity, the policymakers in their decision-making and the IDF and the soldiers in their activities.”
“I feel Gil-Ad’s absence everywhere. It’s very difficult for us to move on because everything is still fresh,” said Shmuel Shai-Cohen, Gilad’s grandfather.
“The internal politics have almost been forgotten. MKs from the left and right visited us and these are great moments. If there is something positive that can be taken from the abduction it’s the unity and consensus that surrounds the boys,” he said.
“So far, we have no criticism of the military and we are filled with appreciation for the security and political sources. The unity around this issue conveys solidarity and gives the family strength.
Support continues to be heard from abroad, as well. In Britain, 33 members of the House of Commons introduced a resolution calling for their immediate release. It endorsed Foreign Secretary William Hague’s strong condemnation of the kidnapping and noted the probable involvement of Hamas “in this despicable terrorist act.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received a letter on Sunday from Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan which condemned the abduction.
“In behalf of the government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I write to express my empathy with the Government and people of the State Israel on the abduction of three teenage Israeli students. Given Nigeria’s experience with the scourge of terrorism, I assure you that we are in solidarity with you, as we believe that any act of terrorism against any nation or group is an act against our common humanity. We unequivocally condemn this dastardly act and demand that the children are released unconditionally by their abductors.”