Friday, June 20, 2014

'Bring back our boys' - Israel

Eight days ago, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped as they hitchhiked home from their yeshiva. Minutes later, a police number received a two-minute call from one of them, who whispered "We've been kidnapped." The number receives a large number of hoax calls, and the call was not taken seriously until four hours later, when the parents of one of the boys reported he had not arrived home. A car believed to have been used in the kidnap was later found burnt out.

Tens of thousands gathered at the Western Wall in Jerusalem to pray for the teenagers, Naftali Frenkel (16), Gilad Shaar (16), and Eyal Yifrach (19), and prayer rallies were organised across the nation and in Jewish communities abroad.

Thousands of soldiers manned checkpoints and carried out house-to-house searches in Hebron and surrounding villages, and later farther afield. Many Palestinians were arrested who were among the 1,027 prisoners released in 2011 in exchange for Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier abducted five years earlier.

An Israeli Defence Forces spokesman said security forces had foiled 64 abductions since the beginning of 2013, most affiliated with Hamas, the terrorist organisation which controls Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas was behind the kidnap. Hamas denied the charge, Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he would co-operate with Israel in an attempt to find the youths. Mr Netanyahu said he would hold Mr Abbas accountable, since the abductors came from territory under Palestinian Authority control. 

"Terrorists abduct innocent Israeli children, while we save the lives of ill Palestinian children in our hospitals. That is the difference between our humanitarian policy and the murderous terrorism that is attacking us."

By coincidence, on the day the youths were kidnapped, Mr Abbas' wife Amina was admitted to the Assute Medical Centre in Tel Aviv for surgery on her leg. She was discharged on Sunday.

The search goes on.

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