Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago.
Speakers at the rally, held under the banner "Singing Together for their Return," were to include the teens' families, Israel's president-elect Reuven Rivlin and singers such as Miri Mesika, Rami Kleinstein, Kobi Oz, Zvika Pik, Dudu Fisher and Lior Narkis.
"The prayer for the welfare of the boys must go out not only from the synagogues, but also from the mosques during Ramadan," said Rivlin.
Opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog (Labor) told the crowd, "We must not cease our efforts to bring back the boys. Gilad, Eyal and Naftali are not a symbol, but boys whose normal lives were broken off in an instant by terrorists. I've come to this square tonight with thousands of people from every corner of the country to say to the Shaar, Fraenkel and Yifrach families, 'We will not rest until we bring [your] sons home.'"
Emcee Avri Gilad said, "This is a rally of togetherness. Speak with the people standing next to you who look different from you and you'll see that the differences aren't so great."
Some 2,000 people confirmed their attendance on the event's Facebook page, which called on all Israelis to come "sing in the square with Israel's best artists for the teens' return and for unity and fraternity."
The three teens, Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrah were kidnapped on June 19 from a hitchhiking station near the West Bank settlement of Gush Etzion. A massive operation was launched in the Hebron area following the abduction, and Israeli politicians and security sources have said from the beginning that they believed Hamas was behind the kidnapping.
Israel's defense establishment believes it has narrowed down the
identities of the two Hamas militants who kidnapped the three teens,
it emerged on Thursday after a gag order was lifted.
The Shin Bet security service revealed the two militants' names in a
statement: Marwan Qawasmeh and and Amar Abu Aisheh, two known
operatives in the Hebron area.
In a statement on Qawasmeh and Abu Aisheh, the Shin Bet said the two
were considered suspects immediately after the abduction, adding that
ever since, the Shin Bet and the Israel Defense Forces have pursued
the men, first and foremost in order to locate the kidnapped teens.
Both men were known to be missing from the day of the kidnapping, two
weeks ago. Their homes were raided about three days after the
abduction, and many of their relatives were arrested.