Economics Minister Naftali Bennett and MK Shuli Mualem (Jewish Home) visited the Mekor Chaim yeshiva high school in Kfar Etzion on Monday, as the school starts a new academic year in the shadow of the brutal kidnapping and murder of two of its students in June.
Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Sha'ar, both 16, were abducted and murdered together with 19-year-old Eyal Yifrah by Hamas terrorists, as they hitchhiked home outside Kfar Etzion, which is located in the Gush Etzion bloc south of Jerusalem.
Speaking to students and teachers, Bennett noted how the school was at the forefront of "the difficult events" of the past summer, but said they and the Jewish people could draw strength from the fact that from "the abduction, and from there to (Operation) Protective Edge, we presented an Israel united, determined and faithful, even on the battlefield. We must always strive for determination and unity."
He added that the high school's tragic central role in the summer's crises gave the students a special responsibility to lead by example and "perpetuate" that sense of national unity.
MK Muallem - who lost her first husband in a tragic IDF helicopter crash and went on to serve a Chairman of the IDF Widows and Orphans organisation - said the nation as a whole was faced with a choice "Do we focus wretchedly on what happened to us, or, despite the pain, do we choose life and march forward?"
"After that choice we must remember that we are talking about a process - nothing happens quickly. In this process the ultimate goal is clear. We need to look at the day of the kidnapping and see if we are better Jews now."
Bennett spoke to Arutz Sheva outside the school, overlooking the new community of Gvaot which was built in memory of the three murdered teens.
"That's always been the Zionist response to the murder of Jews," he said of the government's decision to permit the building of a new town in their memory. "To build our country, to grow stronger and to look forward."