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Timline of terror: From abduction to murder

After 18 days of feverishly searching for kidnapped teens, operation Brother's Keeper comes to tragic conclusion.

Ynet
Published: 07.01.14, 01:04 / Israel News

For the past 18 days, IDF soldiers have searched under every rock in the Hebron area for the three missing Israeli teenagers. On Monday, that search came to an end, but all hope was lost. The bodies of the teenagers who've been kidnapped over two weeks ago were found a day after tens of thousands of people attended a support rally in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square and demanded: "Bring Back Our Boys." The boys, Gil-Ad, Naftali and Eyal, who just wanted to get home, won't return.

 

The finding of the bodies also brings to an end one of the goals of Operation Brother's Keeper, an operation that was launched following the abduction at a hitchhiking stop in Hebron. From going into the abductors' car, to the call to police in which one of the teens whispered "we've been kidnapped" and through the ceaseless search that ended in great tragedy - these are the 18 days that haunted the Shaer, Frenkel and Yifrach families and, in effect, the entire nation.

 

Thursday, June 12

9:40 pm - Eyal Yifrach from Elad called one of his friends and told him he was looking for a ride in the Gush Etzion

area.

10 pm - Naftali Frenkel from Nof Ayalon and Gil-Ad Shaer from Talmon left the Makor Chaim yeshiva for the weekend.

10:15 pm - The three hitched a ride at the western exit of Alon Shvut.

10:25 pm - One of the abductees called the police and whispered "we've been kidnapped." The police didn't take the call seriously enough, even though it lasted over two minutes. Commissioner Yohanan Danino called this "a very grave failure."

 

Friday, June 13

3 am - The father of one of the boys reported to the police that his son never made it home. It was only then that the information about the missing boys was communicated to the IDF and Shin Bet.

12:30 pm - Security forces found a burnt car in one of the Palestinian villages. It is believed this is the car used to kidnap the three.

2 pm - The media was still not allowed to report the news, but many already knew three teenagers had been kidnapped. A message spread like wildfire on WhatsApp saying two of the boys have been rescued, unharmed, in a military operation. According to the false message, five terrorists had been killed in the rescue mission.

5:05 pm - Rumors ended when the IDF spokesman made a statement to the press and said what many had already known - there's a grave fear that the three teenagers had been kidnapped.

 

Saturday, June 14

During the night: The IDF made the first round of arrests following the kidnapping of the teens. Sixteen Palestinians were arrested in the Hebron area, most of them Hamas operatives.

12:40 pm - 2,000 combat soldiers were sent to the Hebron area to aide in the search.

1:50 pm - Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that the working assumption was that the teens were alive and admitted: "This went under our radar."

3 pm - The IDF censor cleared the names of the three for publication - Naftali Frenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach.

8:50 pm - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his first public remark since the kidnapping: "We're doing everything to bring the boys home. Our boys had been kidnapped by a terror organization."

 

Sunday, June 15

Overnight –The IDF arrested 80 Hamas operatives, among them senior member Hassan Yousef, members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and former ministers.

12:40 pm - Naftali Frenkel's mother, Rachel, said in a message to her son: "Israel will upend worlds to bring you home."

1:45 pm - The IDF made preparations for a siege of Hebron by blocking the main entrances to the city.

7:30 pm - Tens of thousands attended a mass prayer at the Western Wall for the teens' safe return. Another mass prayer took place in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, where former Chief Rabbi Meir Lau said Israel mustn't wait "like (it did) with Gilad Shalit."

10:25 pm - Tensions flared in the south as well. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted two Grad rockets.

11 pm - The IDF continued their night raids in Hebron. Explosions were reported. Two Hamas operatives were arrested.

 

Monday, June 16

The IDF continued making arrests. The Speaker of the Palestinian parliament, Aziz Duwaik, was among those arrested. Rumors circulated on WhatsApp about the fate of the abductees. Dozens protested at the Gush Etzion Junction, calling for the release of the kidnapped teens, and clashed with the IDF.

 

Tuesday, June 17

A support rally was held in New York. At the Knesset, a confrontation broke out over comments made by MK Hanin Zoabi who said the kidnappers "were not terrorists." The IDF continued searching the Hebron area, looking down holes, wells and in caves.

 

Wednesday, June 18

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas harshly lashed out against the culprits behind the kidnapping, saying in Arabic in a speech in Saudi Arabia: "Those who carried out the kidnapping want to destroy us. The three teens are human beings like us and they should be returned to their families."

 

Thursday, June 19

The IDF continued making arrests. The army raided the Birzeit University's students union, confronted rioters throwing explosives in Jenin, and broke the 200 arrests mark. Despite that, there was still no breakthrough.

 

Friday, June 20

The search in the Hebron area intensifies. This is the area where the bodies were eventually found. The IDF declared some of the area a "closed military zone" and sent more troops to the area in helicopters.

 

Saturday, June 21

The international campaign to raise awareness was getting into gear. Naftali's mother, Rachel Frenkel, gave an interview to CNN and said: "We assume that they're alive." The IDF emptied out water reservoirs and raided Hamas-affiliated charities.

 

Sunday, June 22

During the search for the missing teens, dozens of tunnels have been exposed in Judea and Samaria. Some were found by soldiers inside the homes of Hamas operatives. These tunnels, however, did not lead to a breakthrough.

 

Monday, June 23

Iris Yifrach, Bat Galim Shaer and Rachel Frenkel, the boys' mothers, left for Geneva to speak in front of the UN's Human Rights Council. "We want the kids home," they said before getting on their plane.

 

Tuesday, June 24

After a long list of condemnation against Israel's policy in the territories and its extensive arrests operation in Judea and Samaria, Rachel Frenkel turned to the international community and begged for help in bringing the boys back. Bat Galim Shaer, Gil-Ad's mother, said: "The world is indifferent." IDF Chief of Staff Gantz admitted: "As time passes, concerns grow regarding the fate of boys."

 

Wednesday, June 25

The Palestinian administrative detainees ended their hunger strike after reaching an understanding with the Israel Prisons Service. Bat Galim Shaer harshly criticized the supposed deal reached, as well as the prime minister: "An agreement with the hunger strikers is a big mistake."

 

Thursday, June 26

Two weeks after the kidnap, the Shin Bet cleared for publication the names of the two main suspects - Amar Abu-Eisha and Marwan Kawasmeh. The manhunt for the two, Palestinian terrorists from Hebron who previously served time in Israeli prison, started the day after the kidnapping. The IDF raided their homes - but the two kidnappers have not been arrested yet.

 

Friday, June 27

Ahead of a support rally in Tel Aviv, the three mothers gave an interview to Yedioth Ahronoth and clarified: "We completely trust the government and the IDF, but we are not naive. We've got our eyes opened to make sure everything is going as it should."

 

Saturday, June 28

The European Union condemned the kidnapping of Gil-Ad, Naftali and Eyal, while at the same time demanding Israel to use "restraint" in its efforts to free the teens. Before that, the UN said: "We don't know for certainty that they've been kidnapped."

 

Sunday, June 29

Rachel Frenkel, Bat Galim Shaer and Iris Yifrach arrived at the hitchhiking stop in Alon Shvut, from which the boys took a ride they never got off of. Hours later they arrived at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, joined by tens of thousands in their call to bring the boys home. "Thank you to the people of Israel, the IDF, and Abbas," the mothers said on stage.

 

Monday, June 30

President-elect Reuven Rivlin tells Ynet that the mass rally "is proof that there are no two societies in Israel, there's no 'Tel Aviv State' and the 'Land of Settlers.'"

 

But less than 24 hours after the rally, the difficult news arrived. After over two weeks of searching, the breakthrough finally came, but it was so sad - the bodies of Gil-Ad, Naftali and Eyal were found near Hebron, and the hope to bring them back home was lost.

 

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