NEW YORK—An informal coalition of New Yorkers is calling for the release of three teens kidnapped in Israel last week. The boys, Gilad Shaar, 16; Naftali Frenkel, 16; and Eyal Yifrach, 19, have been missing since last week on Thursday. The Israeli government said it believes they were kidnapped in a deliberate act of terrorism by Hamas.
“There’s nothing more precious than our children,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer during a press conference on Wednesday. The emotion from Stringer, who is a father of two children, and others at the press conference was palpable.
Stringer co-hosted the event with the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, and other community and religious leaders, as well as elected officials.
One of them, Council member Mark Treyger, is a descendant of Holocaust survivors.
“This is not just an attack against Israel, it’s an attack against the world,” said Treyger, who warned that the motto of “never again” shouldn’t be empty words. “Silence is betrayal, and inaction is unacceptable.”
The teenage boys were last seen last Thursday night when they were on their way home from school in Gush Etzion, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. The massive search by Israeli military forces has only intensified with the passing days. The U.S. government has condemned the kidnapping, called for the teens’ immediate release, and continues to gather details about the abduction.
One of the teenagers, Naftali Frenkel, has dual Israeli-American citizenship and family ties to an aunt, uncle, and cousins in Flatbush, Brooklyn, as well as other relatives in upstate New York. He is described as an upbeat young man who likes to play guitar and read the Torah. The other teens are described as generous and kind. Yifrach loves to play tennis and volunteered to attend a different school to help less fortunate children. Gilad works as a youth counselor and is known for being an outstanding baker.
On Wednesday, Ambassador Ido Aharoni, consul general of Israel in New York, remarked on the incredibly strong bond between New York and Israel.
“The outpouring of support from our friends here in New York, the United States, and around the world are being heard and felt throughout Israel,” said Aharoni.
If the teens are still missing next week, a gathering of 30 community organizations plans to rally in front of the Israeli Consulate at noon on June 24.