The gruesome discovery of the bodies of three Israeli teenagers earlier this week in a field near Hebron was met with a great degree of shock and outrage from people throughout the world. Ever since they were abducted by terrorists on June 12, 19-year-old Eyal Yifrach, 16-year-old Gilad Shaar and 16-year-old Naftali Frenkel had been in the hearts and minds of countless people across the globe as they prayed for the teens’ safe return and hoped that they would be reunited with their families.
There was no shortage of reactions to the news from American governmental and political leaders, many of whom empathized with the grieving families and expressed anger at the ghastly terrorist act that shocked our collective conscience and claimed the lives of these three innocent boys.
“As a father, I cannot imagine the indescribable pain that the parents of these teenage boys are experiencing,” said President Obama as he extended his condolences to the families. “The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this senseless act of terror against innocent youth. From the outset, I have offered our full support to Israel and the Palestinian Authority to find the perpetrators of this crime and bring them to justice, and I encourage Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue working together in that effort. I also urge all parties to refrain from steps that could further destabilize the situation. As the Israeli people deal with this tragedy, they have the full support and friendship of the United States.”
In a statement, Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the killings and expressed outrage at the murder of the three boys.
“The news of the murder of these three Israeli teenagers—Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach—is simply devastating,” said Secretary Kerry. “We all had so much hope that this story would not end this way. As a father, there are no words to express such a horrific loss that shakes all people of conscience. We pray for these three boys and their families, and together we grieve with all the people of Israel. Knowing that Naftali was also an American citizen makes this an especially heavy blow not just to Israel, but to the United States.
“We condemn this despicable terrorist act in the strongest possible terms,” continued Secretary Kerry. “The killing of innocent youths is an outrage beyond any understanding or rationale, and the perpetrators must be brought to justice. This is a time for all to work towards that goal without destabilizing the situation.”
Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed solidarity with Israel and praised the unity that was engendered by this tragic episode.
“There are no words of condolence or solace that can ever comfort the bereaved families of Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal,” said Senator Menendez. “Hope for their recovery has transformed into mourning. During this somber period, we pray for their parents and communities who are heartbroken at this hour and overwhelmed by grief. This act of terrorism strikes at the heart of freedom loving people the world over and we stand with Israel as it works to bring to justice those who committed this murderous act. Over these past 18 days, the Jewish community and people of good faith in New Jersey, the United States, and throughout the world demonstrated an unbreakable unity of spirit in praying for Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal’s swift return. That strength will only endure.”
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey noted the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel and declared that he too is grieving the loss of the three boys. “I am deeply pained by the news that the bodies of the three Israeli teens kidnapped on June 12th have been found,” said Senator Booker. “In recent months, the world has witnessed in horror the abduction of school girls in Nigeria and kidnapping of innocent teenagers in the West Bank. The use of children as a weapon of terror is simply intolerable and the perpetrators of this unconscionable crime must be brought to justice. The U.S. and Israel maintain an unshakable bond and ever-strong partnership, and today I join my brothers and sisters in Israel in grieving for these three young, innocent children,” continued Senator Booker. “My prayers and thoughts are with the families of the victims.”
Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr., whose congressional district includes part of Teaneck, Englewood, and Tenafly, called the murders “hate crimes” and said that the perpetrators must be brought to justice.“It brings me deep sadness to learn of the tragic ending to the three missing Israeli teenagers, who have been the victims of what appears to be planned, conscious terrorism,” said Congressman Pascrell. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families as they deal with this devastating loss. These acts are hate crimes in every sense of the word, and while we can’t judge the whole by a few insane individuals, this has been too common, too frequent for too long.
“If members of Hamas are responsible for any part of this heinous act, they must be brought swiftly to justice,” continued Congressman Pascrell. “I urge President Obama to reaffirm our commitment to the government of Israel. We are losing too many young people to such atrocities in every corner of the globe, but this will not break our resolve to defeat terror wherever it may occur.”
“This is a terrible tragedy,” said Representative Scott Garrett, whose congressional district includes parts of Fair Lawn, Paramus, Teaneck, and Bergenfield. “My thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends and loved ones of these young men. I fully support Prime Minister Netanyahu as he seeks to bring those that are responsible to justice.”
Governor Chris Christie spoke out about the tragedy as well and noted the grief that the victims’ parents are feeling.
“The news of the murder of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel is heartbreaking,” said Governor Christie. “As parents, Mary Pat and I can only imagine the unbearable devastation and sadness of losing a child. Our sincere thoughts and prayers go out to the three families and to the people of Israel.”
Representative Eliot Engel of New York, who was in Los Angeles with Frenkel’s aunt, is the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, extended his thoughts to the victims’ families and noted how incredibly tragic it is for parents to lose their child. “Every parent’s greatest fear is harm coming to his or her child, and so I can’t imagine what the parents of Gil-ad, Naftali, and Eyal are experiencing on this sad day,” said Congressman Engel. “As we look at the faces of these young boys, it is my hope that even those who seek harm upon us realize that children are off limits. Young kids should never be targets in conflict. I’m heartbroken today at the loss of these three boys. I wish comfort upon their families. And I hope whoever is responsible for this evil is brought swiftly to justice.”
By N. Aaron Troodler