Unfortunately there is no new information about the fate of the three kidnapped boys. Their names and places of residence have now been released:
A gag order on naming the trio has now been lifted. They have been identified as Eyal Yifrah, 19, from Elad; Naftali Frenkel, 16, from Nof Ayalon; and Gilad Sha’ar, 16, from Talmon.
This is what has been happening over Shabbat:
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon has vowed not to rest until the boys are found and those responsible for their kidnapping are hunted down. He told reporters Saturday that authorities are working on the assumption that they are still alive.
“Because we have no information to the contrary, we are assuming that they are still alive,” he told reporters.
Security services have been scouring the Hevron region since Friday.
The IDF has closed the main crossings into the Gaza Strip to prevent the teenagers from being smuggled into the territory, where the Islamist Hamas movement remains dominant despite the formation of the Palestinian unity government.
Over the weekend, synagogues across Israel conducted special prayers for the boys, saying Psalms (Tehilim) 121 and 130.
According to AFP, both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have denied responsibility for the attack, claiming that the kidnapping could not have been carried out by Palestinian Arabs since Gush Etzion is completely under Israeli control.
It is a somewhat weak claim given that all Palestinian terrorist attacks take place in areas under Israeli control, since no Jews live under Palestinian Authority control.
The claims appear to be a desperate attempt to deflect criticism, as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has already blamed the recent unity deal between Hamas and Fatah for emboldening terrorists.
A statement in Arabic made its way around social media over the weekend claiming ISIS, the extremist group making its way through Iraq and Syria, was responsible for the attack, but its authenticity could not be confirmed.
Prime Minister Netanyahu confirmed that the boys had been kidnapped:
“Our boys were kidnapped by a terrorist organization. There is no doubt about that,” the Prime Minister said in an official statement after an emergency security meeting with the Defense Minister and IDF Chief of Staff, adding that an intensive effort is being made to avoid the kidnapped students being smuggled out the Hevron area.“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 children.”
Netanyahu reiterated that he holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for the boys’ safety.
“I have ordered… to demand from the Palestinian Authority, headed by Abu Mazen (Abbas) – from whose territory the kidnappers came – to do whatever necessary to help the hostages get home safely,” Netanyahu said. “That is the Palestinian Authority’s responsibility.”
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Benny Gantz also issued a statement Saturday night.
“The IDF has been operating over the past two days in every place that needs investigating [for the return of the missing teens], in an operation which is widening in scope,” he said.
“We’ll keep an eye on what is happening in other arenas,” he continued, vowing to continue the search “with responsibility and determination.”
At the same time, the IDF Spokesperson’s Office also issued a statement via its official Twitter account that the three were kidnapped by Palestinian Arab terrorists.
“We can confirm that the 3 missing Israelis in Judea & Samaria were kidnapped by #Palestinian terrorists,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Office tweeted Saturday night.
Israeli Chief Rabbi David Lau called on the Pope to intervene with the Palestinians to solve the kidnapping.
I was not the only person infuriated at the way the media insisted on describing the boys as “settlers”. Factually this is true only for one of them, the other 2 being residents of central Israel. Secondly, even if they all lived in the heard of Hevron, the detail is irrelevant. Or as Judge Dan notes:
Elder of Ziyon reports that The Palestinians themselves are referring to the boys as soldiers because, after all, everybody knows that Israeli children grow up to be soldiers eventually. That’s how they justify the kidnapping to themselves. The Elder remarks:
Now, just imagine that a random Palestinian family lives next door to a place that appears to be where the boys are hidden. Or an Arab woman overhears a rumor that the boys are in the next village.
Can you imagine any of them, without outside incentive, telling the authorities about it?
These are minors. Kidnapping them is reprehensible, a war crime that is about as severe as anything in the Geneva Conventions. A normal person would be disgusted at this act and ashamed to be associated with it.
What percentage of Palestinian Arab society would be against it? How many would publicly say, unprompted by outside considerations (like politicians trying to keep the flow of Western money,) that kidnapping Jewish boys is to be condemned?
You don’t have to ask. Just look in the talkbacks and comments in Arab articles or message forums. You will find very few Palestinian Arabs who are outraged, or even uncomfortable, with such an act.
Gaza Palestinians meanwhile have been celebrating their glorious military victory against 3
huge armoured divisions unarmed teenage schoolboys, in the hope that Israel will be inclined to release yet more murderous terrorist prisoners (and start yet another round of kidnaps-terrorist releases-kidnaps).
Please pray for the safe return of:
Yakov Naftali ben Rachel יעקב נפתל בן רחל
Gilad Michael ben Bat Galim גלעד מיכאל בן בת-גלים
Eyal ben Iris Teshura אייל בן איריס תשורה