It is the third day since the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens by Palestinian terrorists at the Gush Etzion junction in Judea. Standing at the site where the boys were reportedly last seen, IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians, adults and schoolchildren, continue on with the day, but not without thoughts of the tragic abduction.
“We are shocked by this,” said Moriah Casspi, 30, from nearby Bat Ayin to Tazpit News Agency, as she was waiting for her bus on Sunday. “The kidnapping is always on my mind; I find myself crying all the time. I can’t even imagine what the parents are going through.”
“For us, it is a horrible situation. Our kids and families are used to walking around that area without any hesitation. Now we feel that it is not secure enough,” said the head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, Davidi Pearl to Tazpit News Agency in an exclusive interview.
“It’s especially scary for the kids but we have to continue our life as usual with a regular routine; to go to school and to work.”
Pearl, who has been living in Gush Etzion for 44 years and is a resident of Alon Shvut, said that while the kidnapping was not surprising, the location of where it took place was unexpected. “We knew that someday this could happen but we were surprised that it happened here, it what appears to be a secure area.”
The Gush Etzion junction, also known as Tzomet HaGush in Hebrew, serves as the entry point to the Gush Etzion bloc of communities as well as the business and commercial shopping center in Judea. Located two miles south of Efrat, and a 15-minute drive to the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, the site has been frequently targeted by Palestinian terrorists.
“We have to fight against this terror and we have to say that the State of Israel is here to stay,” said Davidi.
Located in the Judean Mountains, public transportation to and from Gush Etzion, where more than 70,000 Israelis live, is limited. Many residents rely on hitchhiking to get to their homes.
Alana Bandos, a Wisconsin native studying in Jerusalem for the year, told Tazpit that although she has been scared to use the Gush Etzion junction for transportation, she will not let the terrorists stop her. “My aunt and uncle live in Efrat and I visit them frequently. I don’t believe in giving in to terrorists which is part of why I’m here today, waiting to catch a bus back to Jerusalem,” she said.