Four years ago, every parents greatest nightmare became a reality for three families. For three weeks, Israel prayed for the lives of three teenagers. Gilad, Eyal, and Naftali. First there was panic. Were they really kidnapped? Where could they be? And there was fear. What would they do with them? The army launched Operation Brother’s Keeper and soldiers were called back to base to search.
For three weeks they searched; for three weeks we prayed. Please let the Arabs who kidnapped them keep them together. God, don’t let them torture them. Please let us find them in time. Please let us find them.
Four years ago, a nightmare began on this day (at least on the English calendar). It was a nightmare that would last three weeks…eighteen days…but for three families, and really, for our entire nation, it was a nightmare that will never end.
From the searches, came a reaction. From the reaction, came a discovery. Tunnels. Deep and threatening. Undoubtedly, the kidnapping disclosed that Arabs dug tunnels deep into our land and an attack was imminent. Because of the kidnapping, the tunnels were discovered.
Soon, rockets started flying, as they did just a few weeks ago again. Then, a whole military operation was launched. Long battles. Many lives lost. It all began with the nightmare of the kidnapping of Gilad, Eyal, and Naftali. Three innocent teenagers.
Really, ask anyone in Israel, and they can likely tell you where they were during those horrible days and blessed days. First, horrible because we feared the worst and the worst was what we got. Second, blessed because so much good came out of something so horrible.
Oh, how people can tell you how they prayed, how they bargained with God. Daily, we desperately believed they would be found. And then came the agonizing blow that last day as rumors flew around the country that they had found them. And through their nightmare, the parents supported the nation. We tried to strengthen them but in the end, it was they who comforted us.
Now, four years later, we know that Eyal, Gilad and Naftali saved countless lives and protected the entire nation. Their deaths triggered a chain of events that prevented a national tragedy and potentially the deaths of hundreds of others.
In the heavens above us, they have become our advocates. Three special boys, now our angels. So hard to believe it has been four years. In their deaths, they opened the hearts of a nation.