Israeli teen's mother makes UN appeal for release

Israeli teen's mother makes UN appeal for release

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 1:18 pm

GENEVA (AFP) – The mother of one of three Israeli teenagers believed kidnapped in the West Bank made an impassioned appeal Tuesday before the UN Human Rights Council for their return.

“I’ve come here today as a mother,” Rachel Frankel told the top United Nations rights forum, the mothers of the two other boys sitting behind her.

Frankel’s 16-year-old son Naftali — who she described a guitar-playing, basketball-loving, serious student — and fellow teenagers Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar went missing on June 12.

“Since then, we’ve heard nothing. No news, no sign of life,” Frankel told the council.

“My son texted me, said he’s on his way home, and then he’s gone. Every mother’s nightmare is waiting endlessly and endlessly for a child to come home,” she said.

Frankel, who was given a speaking slot at the council by pro-Israeli human rights group UN Watch, thanked UN chief Ban Ki-moon and organisations such as the international Red Cross for condemning the apparent abduction.

“At the same time, I believe that much more can be done, and should be done, by so many. That is why we three mothers have come here today before the United Nations and before the world to ask everyone to bring back our boys,” she said, her voice wavering.

Frankel spoke during a council debate on Israel’s policies in the Palestinian territories that it occupies, notably on settler communities in the West Bank.

Since the youths disappeared from a hitchhiking stop in the southern West Bank, Israel has rounded up hundreds of Palestinians in a bid to find them, while also crushing the West Bank network of Islamist movement Hamas, which it accuses of abducting the teens, though there has been no claim of responsibility.

In New York, the UN voiced alarm Monday over the deaths of four Palestinians as Israeli security forces press their campaign to find the youths.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has denounced the abductions and defended his security forces’ cooperation with their Israeli counterparts to locate the boys.

Opponents of Israel at the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday condemned the Israeli crackdown, as well as restating longstanding anger at the occupation of Palestinian territory.

“We urge the international community to put an end to all Israeli violations,” said Jordan’s ambassador, Rajab Sukayri.

His Lebanese counterpart, Najla Riachi, said settlements were a “blatant violations” of international law.

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