For 18 days they never stopped believing, hoping against all odds that their boys will return home alive. But on Monday night the three families received the horrifying news – the bodies of Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach had been discovered near Hebron.
The three Israeli teens were kidnapped more than two weeks ago in Gush Etzion. For more than two weeks, the three families in Talmon, Nof Ayalon, and Elad urged the world to help return their boys home.
In the three homes – Yifrach in Elad, Shaer in Talmon, and Frenkel in Nof Ayalon – dozens of stunned friends and relatives gathered. "The family was shocked," they said in Elad. "It is hard for the family and it for us too to hear that Eyal was no longer alive. All we can do now is lend strength to the family."
The Shaer family was until several hours ago in Tel Aviv, from where they rushed home. As rumors of the boys' fate began to spread, people began to break down, close relatives gathered at the family home, where they remained in the house.
Three bodies were found at 6pm, in shallow pit dug by the two kidnappers between the villages of Beit Kahil and Halhul. It is thought that the boys were shot shortly after the kidnapping as part of a premeditated plan.
At the Makor Chaim yeshiva in Kfar Etzion, where Gil-Ad and Naftali studied, teachers and students received the news with shock. Students on summer break were informed that they needed to return to the yeshiva in the wake of the discovery of the bodies.
Just a day earlier, thousands of Israelis had turned out at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv in an expression of solidarity with the families and to call for the boys' return.