CMEP Bulletin: Search for Teens Engulfs West Bank
Weekly news update from Churches for Middle East Peace
On Thursday, June 16, Israeli teens Eyal Yifrach (19), Gilad Shaar (16), and Naftali Frenkel (16) were kidnapped while hitchhiking from their religious school in the West Bank, located about halfway between Jerusalem and Hebron near the settlement Gush Etzion. One of the teens managed to call the police and say, “We’ve been kidnapped.” The last signal from the cellphone came from an area near Hebron, the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank.
On Friday, the Israeli Defense Forces began to search Palestinian homes in the Hebron district and by Sunday, the military erected checkpoints around the city, closed the nearby crossing into Israel to all Palestinians and placed a travel ban on all male Hebron ages 16 to 50 traveling to Jordan.
A campaign to “bring back our boys” has gripped Israel and spread around the world. Naftali’s mother told reporters, “We trust…[they] will be with us here, and we’ll hug them soon…and God willing, we’ll all be able to celebrate their return safely.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is definitively blaming Hamas for the kidnappings, but no evidence has been made public.