White House offers ‘thoughts and prayers’ for abducted teens

First statement comes ahead of planned vigils in Washington

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

People gather for a vigil for the three missing Israeli teens outside of the Israeli Consulate on June 16, 2014 in New York City. (photo credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)
People gather for a vigil for the three missing Israeli teens outside of the Israeli Consulate on June 16, 2014 in New York City. (photo credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

The Obama administration issued its first statement Tuesday in support of the three teenagers who were abducted by terrorists last Thursday in the West Bank.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of 3 Israeli teens who were kidnapped last week. May they be reunited with their sons soon,” the White House said in a Twitter statement.

Jewish activists in the US have ramped up efforts calling for American help in releasing the three teens, one of whom, 16-year-old Naftali Frankel, has dual American-Israeli citizenship.

A petition on the White House website “demanding that President Barack Obama and his administration use all means necessary to assist the Israeli Government in their efforts to locate these captive children,” had garnered some 14,000 signatures by Tuesday evening.

On Thursday, a vigil for the three is planned for in front of the White House and on Wednesday, a similar event will take place outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

Some 200 people gathered outside the Israeli consulate in New York on Monday to rally for the three.

On Sunday, the United States “strongly condemned” the kidnapping of Frankel, Eyal Yifrach, 19, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16, in a statement by Secretary of State John Kerry.

“The United States strongly condemns the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers and calls for their immediate release,” Kerry said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with their families. We hope for their quick and safe return home. We continue to offer our full support for Israel in its search for the missing teens, and we have encouraged full cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian security services. We understand that cooperation is ongoing.”

Dr. Aliza Lavie (photo credit: courtesy)
Aliza Lavie (photo credit: courtesy)

MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) posted a video appeal Tuesday to US first lady Michelle Obama for her assistance to “bring back our boys.” The first lady was a vocal advocate for the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign to return the missing Nigerian schoolgirls in May. The “Bring Back Our Boys” social media campaign for Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Frankel, 16, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16 plays off of the original US online campaign.

“I’m talking to you as mother to mother, as woman to woman. Please help us to bring the boys back home to Israel,” Lavie said in the video.

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