A day after the IDF forces confirmed the brutal murder of Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Sha’aer and Naftali Fraenkel, members of the Shavei Hebron yeshiva and residents of the holy city of Hebron said the terrorists are “sorely mistaken” if they think they can sever the Jewish link to the Land of Israel with brutality.
“Of course, we have been praying for a different ending to this story since the boys were abducted,” said Rabbi Misha-el Rubin, rosh yeshiva at Yeshivat Shavei Hebron where Eyal Fraenkel HY”D studied. “Now, our task is to show our students – and the world – that our prayers were not offered in vain. The point of praying and of learning Torah is to make us stronger, to inspire us to become better Jews.
Rav Rubin said that Jews have a long history of drawing strength from prayer and added that ironically, it was the Jewish people who gained strength from the prayers of the families of the murdered boys during the 18-day manhunt for the missing teens.
“The families – and especially the mothers – broadcast their feelings to the entire nation. We all tapped into their bravery and the unity it engendered. Now, it is our task to use the energies we have gathered over the last 18 days to give power to the government. (The government must know that they have the 100 percent backing of the nation) to face the challenges of the present day,” the rabbi said.
Yifrach’s roommate, 20-year-old Micky Zivan, told reporters that while the brutal murder of his friend would leave a terrible void in the yeshiva, he added that the entire world has lost a unique soul.
“Of course, Eyal can never be replaced and will never be forgotten,” Zivan said with an even voice. “He was a leader, a friend, a brother. But it’s more than that, in this case: He wasn’t just a guy who lived in our room. He was a unique, beautiful individual who had so much to offer the world. And the world is that much poorer because he won’t be a part of it.”
David Wilder, a spokesman for the Hebron Jewish Community, quoted the book of Psalms and King David’s admonition to “Depart from evil, and do good,” and said that Israel must employ a two-pronged response to the murders.
“We have lost three young men, three heroes, three individuals who knew nothing of evil,” Wilder said. “Their only crime was being Jewish, living in the Land of Israel, studying Torah in Hebron and in Gush Etzion.
“(In response) the State of Israel must eradicate terror and all of those who support it. They must be totally, completely done away with. It should go without saying that Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Salafists that we are seeing now among the Palestinian population – they all must be totally, completely wiped out.”
Lastly, Wilder stressed that he includes Abu Mazen in the category of terrorists who must be annihilated. “Abu Mazen knew what he was doing when he signed the deal with Hamas. When you enter into a unity deal with terrorists, you are a terrorist. Enough with the handshakes, the hugs and the kisses. It is all a show, and if they are not destroyed they will continue to murder Jews.”
Wilder called on the government to respond to the murders with traditional Zionism – expanding Jews’ presence in Judea and Samaria, and the rest of the Land of Israel. He quoted one Arab leader, who said that if Jews fail to claim the entire Land of Israel as their birthright and eternal patronage, then the Arab world will claim the entire land for itself. To that end, he cited the 1980 government decision to grant Jewish building permits in Hebron in response to a terror attack that left six Jews dead, and Wilder called on today’s government to copy the move.
“The ‘do good’ part of King David’s statement (from Psalms – MHS) means taking this yeshiva, which currently houses 350 men, and expanding it to include 1000 people. Shavei Hebron should be an international Torah organization, with men’s and women’s divisions. That’s the right response to this outrage,” Wilder said.
Another Jewish community spokesperson, Noam Arnon, reminded reporters Arab terrorism didn’t start on June 12. Rather, he noted that the community soon will mark the 85th anniversary of the 1929 Arab pogrom that claimed the lives of 70 Jews, and said that the current terror crime was only the latest attack in that ongoing war.
“In 1929, 70 Jews were burned, attacked, beaten to death and raped by their Arab neighbors,” Arnon said. “That’s 20 years before the State of Israel was created, and 40 before the so-called ‘occupation’ of Judea and Samaria.
“So terrorism has nothing to do with territory, or ‘occupation.’ The uncomfortable fact of the matter is that terrorist fanaticism is about one thing, and one thing only: About the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. “