Probe: Police Neglected Duties on Night of Teens' Kidnap

Investigation finds police returned abducted teen's SOS call eight times, but didn't check his identity.

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrah.
Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrah.
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

Operators at the Judea and Samaria police station tried eight times to return the call of one of the abducted teens who phoned late at night on June 12 and said he had been kidnapped, but they did not look into his identity.

These preliminary conclusions were submitted on Thursday by a team that is investigating the conduct of the police operators on the night the three teenagers were abducted from a West Bank hitchhiking station.

Several committee members ruled that the career policewoman whose job was to decide whether the call was a hoax or an alarm that required attention was derelict in her duties.

The police recording shows clearly that the call was first answered by a police operator who thought it sounded suspicious, and transferred it to the more veteran policewoman, who tried unsuccessfully to re-establish contact with the caller.

Eight attempts were made to re-dial that number, which belonged to one of the kidnapped boys, but none were answered. The investigation showed that the police did not try to establish who the phone belonged to, as is the normal procedure when there is a suspicion of foul play. The committee believes that the public should be allowed to hear the first part of the recording, in which the operator’s response and the words “I’ve been kidnapped” are clearly heard.

The committee will continue to investigate the conduct of other policemen who were on duty at the time. It will examine if there was some supervision of the station’s call center, if lessons were learned from earlier events in which the system had failed, and whether all staff at that station had undergone the required training before being placed there. The committee consists of six police officers, headed by Brig. Moshe Barkat, unit head at the police’s Operations Branch.

The call from the abducted teen came at 22:25 on Thursday night, two weeks ago. However, relevant military authorities were only informed of the incident at 4 A.M., after the parents of one of the teens showed up at a police station to report him missing.

The police have changed their version of that phone call twice. First they said it was short and garbled, making it impossible to understand. They later claimed that the reported kidnapping could only be deciphered by an expert who listened to a subsequent playback.

At 3 A.M., the parents of one of the teens showed up at the police station to report him missing. They said that another friend who was with their son had disconnected his phone as well, indicating a possible abduction. The first hours between this call and the time the army started investigating the case were the most critical.

From top: Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Shaar. Center: The car thought to be used in the kidnapping.

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