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Ted C.
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  • Israeli Kidnapping

    by Senator Ted Cruz

    Posted on 2014-06-26

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    CRUZ. Madam President, I rise today to talk about three young boys--three young boys who are now in the hands of terrorists. This should be on the front page of every paper in the United States because this is an issue that is as vital to us as it is to the nation of Israel.

    On Thursday night, June 12, three Jewish teenagers--Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrah--were kidnapped. You can see all three of these boys in the photos beside me.

    Today, Thursday June 26, marks the 14th day of their abduction. Just imagine if these were your children or any child you know. Just imagine if it were your child who was kidnapped for 14 days and you don't know where they are or even whether they are still alive.

    These boys--all smart, hard-working, diligent students--were taken on their way home from school. They were waiting at the bus stop. They were only 5 minutes away from their school--one of the finest yeshivas in Israel. These boys weren't doing anything wrong. They are innocent schoolchildren.

    Yet today it has been reported that Israel's Shin Bet identified two key suspects in the abduction. These two individuals are members of Hamas--a vicious terrorist organization that seeks Israel's destruction and has launched thousands of rockets into Israel, killing innocent civilians. These rockets have also killed dozens of Americans in Israel. Now they have kidnapped three school boys. Sadly, this is business as usual for Hamas. This is the same terrorist organization with which the Palestinian Authority recently joined in a so-called ``unity'' government.

    Israel has been tirelessly looking for these two men since the kidnapping. They come from families who have broader ties to Hamas. In a telling statement to the Times of Israel, the mother of one of the two alleged terrorists claims she did not know of her son's actions, but she said she would be ``proud of him and hoped he would continue to evade capture.'' A mother, proud of her son for kidnapping three school boys.

    Hamas leader Khaled Mashal spoke about the kidnappings on Monday, saying, ``I bless those who did it because it is a moral obligation to free prisoners from Israeli jails.'' This is a leader of Hamas now parked effectively in the unity government of the Palestinian Authority blessing those who have kidnapped three school boys because this is the kind of activity that Hamas terrorists support, the kidnapping of innocent schoolchildren.

    Since the kidnapping, there have been no pictures or videos made available of the kidnapped boys. Their families are in the dark without any knowledge of where their boys are or what conditions they are being held in.

    Rachel Fraenkel, the mother of Naftali Fraenkel, spoke before the United Nations Human Rights Council on June 24. Rachel said: My son texted me--said he's on his way home--and then he's gone. Every mother's nightmare is waiting and waiting endlessly for her child to come home.

    She then pleaded for more action to be taken to find the boys, concluding: We just want them back in our homes, in their beds. We just want to hug them . . .

    All of us should stand with Rachel as she stands with her son who has been kidnapped.

    I also want to tell the world about these three boys.

    Rachel's son Naftali is 16 years old. His grandparents have lived in Brooklyn, and Brooklyn has been a second home to him. He is the oldest of seven children. He likes playing the guitar, basketball, and Ping- Pong. Indeed, there is even a video of him on YouTube playing Ping- Pong. I have to say he is pretty good. He is a talented and gifted student who is on track to take the biology matriculation exams. His teachers say Naftali is brilliant, one of the best they have ever had, and his mother said his personality is a delightful combination of both serious and fun.

    Gilad Shaar, who was with Naftali that day--also coming home from school--was likewise abducted. Like Naftali, Gilad is 16 years old. ``Gil'' means happiness and ``ad'' means forever. His name literally means ``happiness forever,'' and he is a source of joy to those who meet him.

    His aunt Leehy Shaar, whom I had the privilege of meeting and visiting earlier this week, said, ``He has a smile that brings light to the world''--quite fitting for a boy named ``happiness forever.'' She said, ``We want him home where he belongs, with his family, who so dearly loves him.'' Gilad has five sisters, and he is described by them as a caring and loving brother. He is the family's only son, and he has family in Los Angeles and in New York. Gilad is witty. He loves to read, watch movies, and recently he finished a scuba diving course, but he is also a talented cook. He enjoys baking his sisters cakes and pastries.

    We don't know where Gilad is right now.

    Then there is Eyal Yifrah, the third boy kidnapped that day. He is 19 years old and is the oldest of six children. He is a role model for their family, and he is loved by friends who say they would like to have him as a brother. He loves sports. He should be cheering the World Cup games today--like so many other teenagers--with his friends. A gregarious fellow, he likes to cook, travel, play guitar, and sing. Indeed, you can find videos of him on YouTube singing a song that he himself wrote. Eyal should be home singing again.

    There can be no more illusions that Hamas has any role in any future government formed by the Palestinian Authority. They must not receive any further recognition or legitimization. Hamas is a violent terrorist organization ready and eager to brutalize the most innocent. Hamas is a terrorist organization that kidnapped three innocent school boys.

    Hamas, give those boys back.

    Hamas, give those boys back now.

    The full weight of the world should bear down on Hamas to give them back safely and immediately. If they do not, we should use all available means to stand unequivocally with Israel for however long it takes to find these boys and to bring them home. These are teenagers who were targeted for who they are, who have done no wrong, who have done nothing that comes near to deserving what happened to them that day while waiting at the bus stop to go home from school.

    It is easy for us to become desensitized to violence, desensitized to terrorism. It is easy for us to forget that these are three teenage boys whose families desperately want their boys back. I ask that all of us lift them up in prayer. I pray for their safe return. I pray they will soon be home with the families who so dearly love them and miss them, and I pray that God will cover them with a shield of heavenly protection. I pray that America will stand strong, will shine a light and do everything possible to apprehend the terrorists and bring these boys home.

    Thank you, and God bless you.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona.

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