'He Was Always Smiling, Even as A Baby'
As all Israel mourns the horrific murders of Naftali Frenkel (16), Gilad Sha'ar (16), and Eyal Yifrah (19), bereaved families are still left reeling - not only from the news itself, but how it was delivered.
"I was at minha [afternoon service] at synagogue when a friend sent me a message that Al-Jazeera had an alert that the boys had been found," Ezra Sha'ar, Gilad's grandfather, told Channel 2 Tuesday. "Immediately after the service, when I got home, I asked my wife to turn on the TV and radio to hear if it's true. I did not say anything about it - I did not want to worry her - so I said, 'I think they found something, let's wait and see."
"I wasn't prepared for this eventuality," Sha'ar continued. "With all of the prayers, we really believed we would see them again alive."
Sha'ar also reflected somewhat on his grandson.
"Gilad is the second child of my eldest, Ofir," he explained. "He was the only son, along with four daughters."
"Unfortunately, now, I'm talking about him in the past tense," he added, painfully. "He was a good kid, a gifted child - always smiling, even as a baby. He was a boy who loved to learn, to do everything for the community and for society; he was a counselor in Bnei Akiva. He loved his country, he took a lot of trips [around Israel]."
"And, unfortunately, today he's gone," he added.
Gilad's grandfather wanted to thank on behalf of all the families that received broad support since the abduction of the three boys.
"I want to thank everyone for the prayers and unity throughout these 18 days," Sha'ar emotionally stated. "I thank the people of Israel, I thank the IDF."
He hoped that the boys would have a state funeral. "They deserve flowers, they deserve a state funeral," he concluded.
Details are also emerging Tuesday morning as to how the parents were notified of the development. At about 6:30PM IST Monday, the Sha'ar parents received a phone call asking them urgently to return home to Talmon, after meeting with the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv. Upon their return, military officials told them their son's body had been found.
After receiving the news of Eyal's death in Elad, the dozens of people came to the family home to say prayers for the souls of the young victims.
And in Nof Ayalon, the home of Naftali Frenkel Hy"d, a prayer tent used as a gathering site to say prayers for the boys became a place to say psalms for the boys' souls.