Kidnapped students
Kidnapped students Courtesy of the families

Lior Lotan, former head of the IDF POWs and MIAs, stated in an interview on the television program 'As of this Morning' with Niv Raskin that the fact that the three missing yeshiva students have not been found does not say anything about the situation.  

"This is, right now, a classic stage in kidnapping affairs, where it takes three days to gather eyewitness accounts and another say to begin making demands [on the kidnappers] - this is how it was during [the 1994 kidnapping of Nachshon] Wachsman and this is how it is with other kidnapping incidents," Lotan stated, according to IDF Radio

"I do not think [the time lapse] indicates something about the event [or whether or not the boys are alive -ed.], but is a natural ingredient in it."

Comparing cases

Hamas terrorists kidnapped and murdered 19-year-old Israeli soldier Nachshon Wachsman, from the the IDF's Golani Brigade, in October 1994. The kidnapping case gripped - and united - both Israeli society and the Jewish community worldwide. 

On Saturday, 8 October 1994, while home on leave with his family after one year's service, Wachsman left for the north after being called up for a one-day training course.

Wachsman, who left with a friend, never arrived for the course. His parents notified the police on Sunday night, October 9. 

By Monday, October 10, a nation-wide search for Wachsman was underway, but in vain.  At 7 p.m. Hamas called the Wachsman family telling [Nachshon's father,] Yehudah "We are the Hamas. We have your son. He is alive."

An hour later a tape was given to the media showing Nachshon being held hostage by Hamas terrorists who demanded the release of their spiritual leader Yassin as well and of 200 other imprisoned Hamas terrorists by Friday - on pain of Wachsman's murder.

Then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin ordered the IDF to mount a rescue attempt on Friday. 

The IDF learned Wachsman was being held in Bir Nabbalah, a village under Israeli control, only ten minutes away from his Ramot, Jerusalen home, after having captured the driver of the car that had picked him up. Shin Bet (ISA) officers subsequently identified the exact house where Wachsman was being held.

Seren Nir Poraz, 23, who was about to finish his 5 years with the IDF's elite Sayaret Matkal commando unit, was tapped to lead the rescue mission. Hastily and not well prepared, the rescue of Nachshon Wachsman ended in tragedy.

Delays and second chances

Several leading analysts have made comparisons between the case of the three missing yeshiva boys and the Wachsman kidnapping, drawing parallels with the time lapse between the kidnappings and the IDF's efforts and the immense prayer rallies being organized - then and now - across Israel. 

On Saturday, defense officials stated that the assumption is that the boys are still alive, despite Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's declaration that "there is no doubt" the boys were kidnapped by terrorists and the fact that all three have been missing since Thursday night. 

News surfaced Saturday night that there was a significant time lapse between when parents reported the kidnapping to the police and the notification of security sources and the IDF over the issue. As of Saturday, initial reports indicated a lapse of a few short hours, but some reports Sunday allege that the gap may have been as much as eight hours.

The Israeli police has finally responded to these reports Sunday afternoon. Senior police officers told Walla! News that "you cannot overlook" the mishandling of the report and that an internal committee has been set up to handle the issue. 

Despite this, the police have refused to accept criticism launched at them over the mishap, claiming that every day are dozens of reports of attempted abductions, and in the end they turn out to be false reports.

"We check every report, but you can not call the IDF over every report we get," said a police official. "Still, this case turned out to be a red flag, so there will be a thorough investigation into the matter." 

Meanwhile, IDF officials have arrested at least 80 Hamas members in Judea and Samaria in the kidnappings' wake, and launched a full-scale search operation in Hevron and the surrounding area. 

The Jewish community worldwide has mobilized prayer rallies for the boys' safety; families are asked to pray for Ya'akov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah, Eyal ben Iris T'shura, and Gil'ad Micha'el ben Bat-Galim.

In Israel, a mass prayer gathering at the Western Wall in Jerusalem will be held at 7:00 pm. Both of Israel's Chief Rabbis, other leading religious figures, government ministers, and MKs will attend, along with thousands of high school students across the country and the general public.