The parents of one of three Israeli teenagers kidnapped while hitchhiking in the West Bank Thursday expressed optimism Sunday that their son and the two other captives would return home safely.
“We are optimistic, with God’s help, He will see the combined effort of the prayers and solidarity, and we will embrace Naftali, Eyal, and Gil-ad here,” Racheli Frenkel, mother to 16-year-old Naftali Frenkel, said outside her Nof Ayalon home Sunday afternoon.
Frenkel went missing Thursday along with Eyal Yifrach, 19, from Elad, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16, from the settlement of Talmon. They were last seen at a hitchhiking post south of Jerusalem Thursday night.
Their abduction by terrorists was confirmed Saturday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and on Sunday morning the prime minister maintained operatives affiliated with the Palestinian terror group Hamas were behind the kidnapping.
Israel and the PA have embarked on a wide manhunt across the West Bank for the three, arresting some 80 wanted Palestinians, including Hamas leaders, and closing off the city of Hebron.
“Naftali, Mom and Dad and your siblings love you to no end. Know that Israel is turning the world upside down to bring you home,” she said.
The Frenkels also thanked IDF soldiers, the Shin Bet security service and others for keeping them updated and for their persistent efforts to locate their son, and asked that the public continue to pray on behalf of the captives.
Prayers and special study sessions were held at the Mekor Haim yeshiva where the three studied. A mass prayer rally, expected to draw thousands, was scheduled for Sunday evening at 7 p.m. at the Western Wall. Both chief rabbis and government representatives are expected to attend.
The organized gathering comes a day after hundreds flocked to the Western Wall, and held prayer sessions for the three. Rallies were also held elsewhere Saturday night, including at the Cave of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron.
The IDF ramped up its security presence in Hebron on Sunday, according to the Ynet news website, bringing in some 2,500 soldiers to the West Bank city. The elite Paratrooper Unit was stationed in the northern part of the city, launching observation balloons to gather intelligence and calling up a limited number of reserve troops.
According to Palestinian sources cited by the website, all entrances to the city have closed off by concrete blocks.