The three Israeli teens - Naftali Frenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah - disappeared June 12, 2014 only to be found dead three weeks later after a massive Israel Defense Forces search mission. A senior Hamas religious figure later admitted the terror group had carried out the kidnap.
The mothers of the there - Rachel Frenkel, Bat Galim Shaer and Iris Yifrach - will be the first trio to light the ceremonial torch in unison, after the organizers made an exception to the standard procedures which allow only two people to light the torch at the same time.
The three women have been working for the past few years to promote national unity and - in cooperation with Jerusalem Municipality and the Jerusalem-based Gesher NGO (dedicated to closing social gaps in the Israeli society) - established the Jerusalem Unity Prize in memory of their sons, celebrating “contributions to the solidarity of the Israeli nation.”
"We have mixed feelings, because the ones who truly deserve this honor is not us but rather the people who have worked so hard to create national solidarity," said Rachel Frenkel.
“I'm shocked and excited,” said Iris Yifrach. “It’s been five years since the abduction and now all of a sudden we’ve been asked to light the torch. Although it’s painful, it’s also exciting that the entire nation will once again feel united.”
“I’m overwhelmed with emotions,” said Bat Galim Shaer. ”I see this as a continued expression of solidarity we first felt five years ago … it’s what matters to the people of Israel and to the Jewish world in general,” she said, adding that despite the time that has passed, the pain “is still great … it’s indescribable.”
The theme of Israel's 71st Independence Day celebrations on May 8, will be “saluting the Israeli spirit.”