The parents of the three yeshiva boys who were abducted and murdered - Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Sha'ar, hy"d - gave a moving interview to Israel Hayom on Tuesday on the days of waiting, the moments of difficulty and hope - and the news of finding the bodies.
"Immediately after the funeral, the [media] spotlight [was] directed south, rightly, but people [still] stop us in the street and tell us that our story is still in their hearts," said Ofir Sha'ar, father of Gilad. "Everywhere we hear, 'we have not forgotten you.' We are not IDF Chiefs of Staff but we see a direct connection between the abduction and the war."
"It started as something private and made the journey to something public," Iris Yifrach, Eyal's mother, stated. "I look back and to the sides and I see all the people of Israel standing with me."
"The fact that we reached a state of war after a state of solidarity was a preparatory phase for a difficult war," Rachel Frenkel, mother of Naftali, added. "The bereaved families we have met from Operation Protective Edge have been amazing. [Oron] Saul's family, [Hadar] Goldin's family. This lowers the pressure of us being 'role models.' Here's the proof, it's not [just] us, the whole nation is like this."
The three mothers were asked how they coped during Operation Brothers' Keeper, the mission to find and return the abducted teens.
"I suppressed the bad thoughts, concerns about what they are doing to him, what he is undergoing in their hands," Bat-Galim Sha'ar reflected. "There were scenarios in [my] mind and I worked constantly not to play them out."
"We were being prepared for something," Rachel Frenkel said. "I do not understand how a person goes through an experience where their child leaves home in the morning and is hit by a car - and that is it, he will not return. For us it was a long, slow process; we felt wrapped in warmth and love."
"Loss is the loss in both cases, the pit is the pit, but we had a dramatically different experience," she added.
"Until the moment they came to tell me [that the bodies had been found] I imagined Eyal in a very tangible, physical, way, entering through the front door [and coming home]," said Iris Yifrah.
After 18 days the families were informed about finding the three bodies.
"I had a neighbor who, after they announced that the bodies were found, turned and said to all the neighbors, 'a miracle happened to us.' It took me weeks to realize what he meant," Frenkel said.