Kidnapped Teens' Mothers Slam PM for Deal That Ended Prison Hunger Strike

Deal reached with Palestinians to call off administrative detainees' hunger strike is 'a grave mistake,' families say.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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The mothers of the kidnapped teens in the Knesset, Wednesday, June 25.
The mothers of the kidnapped teens in the Knesset, Wednesday, June 25.Credit: Emil Salman
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

For the first time since three teenagers were kidnapped in the West Bank nearly two weeks ago, their mothers on Wednesday publicly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The mothers of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrah came to the Knesset on Wednesday for a solidarity gathering of ministers and MKs, organized by MK Shuly Moalem Rafaeli (Habayit Hayehudi). At the gathering, Bat Galim Shaar, Gilad Shaar’s mother, addressed Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, calling the agreement they had reached with the Palestinians to call off the hunger strike by administrative detainees “a grave mistake.”

“It can’t be that while our children still haven’t been found, the government makes an agreement with the prisoners,” Bat Galim Shaar said. “At a time when the Jewish people live fearfully in their land, the Palestinian people go about their routine. I call on the MKs to do everything they can to return our sons, and to the prime minister, I want to say: The people of Israel will judge you and the cabinet by the results.”

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said that the government was working to block Palestinian Authority payments made to prisoners who murdered Jews.

“The role of the government is to act. The government has been acting these past two weeks,” he said. “We’ve launched a series of activities unprecedented since Operation Defensive Shield [in 2002]: on the intelligence track to get to the boys, and via a decisive blow to Hamas, its institutions, its funds and its operatives. We have reversed the equation of ‘you kidnap, and we release terrorists,’ to one of a kidnapping followed by terrorists going back to serve out their sentences.”

Bennett added, “We have to do more, anything that can be used to achieve even tighter leverage. The next leverage is money. Thousands of Hamas terrorists are getting monthly salaries of 4,000-12,000 shekels ($1,162-$3,488) a month. If you murder a Jew, you profit from it. We now want an equation of ‘you act and you’ll pay for it.’ We are leaving no stone unturned to reach the boys. There’s nothing that we want to do that isn’t being done. There are no few legal limitations. The prime minister himself is dealing with the matter day and night.”

Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel said, “I’ve seen the powerful faith these families and the Jewish people have. Such wall-to-wall unity isn’t found everywhere in the world. We are coming to the conclusion that we are facing an enemy and we have to treat him as such. These are not just your sons, they are all our sons.”

Iris Yifrah, Eyal Yifrah’s mother, said, “The daily routines of all three of us have been upended, and we are praying to the Creator that this test will end well. We are calling to you [women], woman to woman, to a mother’s heart. You have the power to influence. Make every effort you can to advance our sons’ return.”

Naftali Fraenkel’s mother Rachel Fraenkel came to the gathering straight from the airport, after returning from an appearance before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. She offered thanks to the entire nation. “I send blessings to the soldiers and to the parents of the soldiers and security forces who are doing everything they can for our children. En route here, my younger daughter was holding a picture of Naftali and asked me, ‘When are those people going to bring Naftali home already?’ I explained to her that it’s not easy to be patient, and I want to thank all of those who are with us, supporting us and waiting patiently with us for our sons to return.”

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