The parents of three teens kidnapped in the West Bank Thursday got their first listen to a tape of one of the students reporting the abduction, in an emotional meeting with defense officials Wednesday.
During the meeting, the parents were also updated on military efforts to locate their sons Naftali Frankel, Gil-ad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach in a massive West Bank operation, with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warning of long hours of uncertainty ahead.
The recording of the phone call, made by one of the teens soon after the kidnap last Thursday night to a police hotline in Kiryat Arba, had been kept under wraps; Israeli authorities have acknowledged an apparent operational failure that led to the call not being immediately passed along to the army.
Upon hearing the caller’s voice in the two-minute recording, some of the parents lost their composure and left the room. Others had a more subdued reaction, according to Channel 2.
In the recording, one of the trio whispers “I’ve been kidnapped.” The dispatcher thought the call was a prank and, after phoning back and getting no answer, dismissed it, leaving seven hours between the report and the military being notified.
Police officials have said the voice on the recording was difficult to hear, a claim rejected by military sources.
Since the abduction Thursday, Israeli forces have embarked on a massive campaign to locate the boys and kidnappers while simultaneously destroying parts of the Hamas terror infrastructure in the West Bank.
Meeting with the parents Wednesday, Ya’alon praised them for their steadfastness and strength, pledging to stand by them and urging them to exercise patience and restraint.
“In such incidents, one of the most important things is your steadfastness, which is admirable,” Ya’alon said. “We, and primarily you, have long and difficult hours of suspense, doubt and uncertainty ahead of us.”
He explained that the purpose of the military operation currently under way was to reach the kidnappers and the youths “as quickly as possible.” He added that until proven otherwise, the army’s working assumption was that the boys are alive.
Regarding the scope and length of the operation, the defense minister said the military was making a “concerted effort” by ground and intelligence forces, including meticulous searches of the area, to locate the boys.
“There is nothing to limit the scope of the operation,” Ya’alon said. “All the intelligence and operational capabilities of the IDF, the Shin Bet and the Israel Police have been allocated to the operation as a first priority. We will not rest until we lay our hands on the kidnappers and bring the boys back home.”
The parents also met with high-level representatives from the IDF.
Earlier Wednesday, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch met with students and teachers at the Mekor Haim Yeshiva in Gush Etzion, at which the kidnapped boys studied.
Aharonovitch updated the students and teachers on recent developments in the efforts to locate their peers and fielded questions from them.
“They asked genuine and painful questions,” the minister said following the meeting. “They are worried, but full of hope and faith.”
During his talk, Aharonovitch addressed the criticism hurled at the police for its mishandling of the phoned-in report of the kidnapping.
“The subject of the criticism is justified, naturally,” he said. “We must look into the matter and draw conclusions. I heard the tape, it’s very difficult to understand, but one of these days it will be made public. If there were mishaps, they will be investigated.”
On Tuesday, police commissioner Yohanan Danino said he had appointed a commission to probe the matter.