(The three murdered teens: Naftali Frenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach)
Four years have passed since three Israeli teenagers, Naftali Frenkel (16), Gil-Ad Shaer (16) and Eyal Yifrach (19) were abducted from near their homes in the Gush Etzion area and then murdered close to the Jewish city of Hebron in Judea.
Although undoubtedly a horrific tragedy, many in Israel regarded the terrible event as curse which revealed a secret blessing – the lone terrorist cell that acted did not have the sanction of the Hamas terror organization, and it later turned out that Hamas was not ready for the war which broke out consequently. As a result, Israel managed to destroy thousands of missiles, killed hundreds of terrorists, and dismantled numerous attack and kidnap terror tunnels which Hamas had secretly dug from Gaza all the way to nearby Israeli communities.
The kidnapping itself occurred on Thursday, 12 June 2014. Three Israeli teenagers waited at the Alon Shvut junction, a place well-known for being a good hitchhiking point in the Gush Etzion area. Shortly before 10:30pm, a man in a stolen Hyundai car with yellow Israeli license plates pulled up alongside them. Not much is known about the following minutes and hours, but at 10:45pm, a call was made to emergency services. The operator answered, and on the other end of the line was Gil Sha’ar, who whispered: “They kidnapped me.”
Initially, the dispatcher thought it was a bad joke. Later, police officers tried to call Shaer’s mobile phone, but he did not answer. They assumed that it was a false warning and made no effort to locate the telephone’s location, contact its owner and check why the connection was lost. Although a later analysis of the recording revealed that sharp noises were heard, apparently shots from a pistol at close range, the police recording shows that the event was not initially identified as a terrorist attack.
Only at 6:00 am did the brigade commander, who had begun to investigate the incident for himself, report the incident to the his superiors, leading to a declaration at 7:40 am that the kidnapping was being dealt with by the highest level of the army. Later that day, the IDF publicly announced the start of Operation Shuvu Achim, in order to search for the teens and the terrorists.
Apparently panicked at seeing that one of the boys had managed to make a phone call, the terrorists abandoned plans to kidnap them alive and murdered the boys while in the car, and continued to the village of Halhul. There, the kidnappers hid the three bodies and covered them with bushes and stones. The car used by the kidnappers was torched and abandoned by them in the area of Dura. The story shocked Israel to the core, and revealed the depths to which anti-Israel Arab terrorists are prepared to sink.
18 days after the abduction, the bodies of Gil-Ad, Naftali and Eyal were found. Months later, in September 2014, two of the murderers were killed by Israeli soldiers in Hebron after resisting arrest. The commander of the murder squad, Hussam Kawasma, was sentenced to three life terms.