“It’s been a very hard time; it’s hard to breathe – but we’re doing it,” says Racheli Frankel, the mother of Naftali, 16, who was abducted, along with Eyal Yifrach 19, and Gilad Shaar, 16, by Palestinian terrorists 10 days ago.
“We try not to think of the details of what Naftali might be going through, but to hope and are very, very optimistic that we’ll see him soon,” Frankel told the Associated Press.
“Ten days is very hard, when you’re expecting your boy to come home from school,” she said, her voice cracking. “He texted us at 9:30 (pm) that he’s on his way, and then all of this happened.”
The trio were hitchhiking home – a common practice in much of Israel where bus service is infrequent – for the weekend from their yeshiva (religious seminary) at Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, when they were abducted.
Since then, possibly the largest manhunt in Israel’s 66-year history has been mounted, utilizing thousands of soldiers, security and intelligence forces, and volunteers. They are combing Palestinian villages and fields in a massive rural, hilly area between Bethlehem and south of Hebron in Judea (the West Bank) in an effort to find and free the teens from their presumed Hamas captors.
“It take an effort to eat, it takes an effort to sleep, but we’re trying to stay sane,” Racheli said. “We have other children to take care of and the family is extremely supportive, the community is extremely supportive; we get so much love and positive energy and prayers from all over the world.”