A special event was held on Sunday to mark nine years since Operation "Brother's Keeper." The operation was launched by the IDF, security forces, and civilians to search for three boys - Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrah, who were kidnapped and murdered by terrorists, after which began an operation to eliminate the terrorists and strike Hamas infrastructure.
The event was organized by the Etzion Regional Battalion in cooperation with the founders of the Oz Vegaon nature reserve and the Gush Etzion Regional Council.
The bereaved families sat beside Gush Etzion residents, current and past soldiers and officers from the battalion, and civilians who organized and participated in the search effort to remember and recount the special operation, which had one goal: to bring the boys home and to catch the terrorists.
Those present spoke about enlistment and strong cooperation between the military and the residents, the same cooperation is seen today, together with several changes and advancements, among them the establishment of the "Moral" unit, a special unit that quickly closes in using trackers and professionals.
Etzion Battalion Commander Col. Itai Metek states: "The kidnapping of the three boys was a tragic and defining event in the Judea and Samaria Division, especially in the Gush Etzion region. The security forces, together with many amazing civilians who chose to volunteer and contribute to the search effort, each one to their abilities, until the boys were found and the terrorists caught.
Over the years, we developed the defense concept, which combines intel-gathering technologies, advanced intelligence, and military and civilian infrastructure. During the operation, the battalion's commanders and the residents showed reimagination, and various battle, intel-gathering, and search methods that serve the Judea and Samaria Division until today were developed.
We need to be a system that learns, the truth is our guiding light. The strongest proof to our enemies is that our victory is implanted in our heritage, spirit, and faith, which are the ethical and stable basis to deal with challenges.
I see this heritage evening as an evening to learn to follow in the steps of our loved ones. From you, the Yifrah, Frenkel, and Shaer families, we learned what inner strength is. From you, we learned how to face personal and national challenges. From you, we learned what Jewish unity is, what stateliness is, and how to draw up strength together. Tonight, I wish to say that also those will forever be a moral order for us, for a life of brotherhood, friendship, unity, and cooperation. I promise to continue to work, and to train the forces, to keep the operational edge, and to train for the most complex situations.
We will continue to work to reach the goal: to beat terrorism every day and to stop it with precision and wisdom. We will continue to remember Gilad, Eyal, and Naftali," the commander concluded.
Gush Etzion Regional Governer and Yesha Council leader Sholomo Ne'eman stated: "The operation was called 'Brother's Keeper.' The children of Israel went such a long way from wanting to sell Joseph to saying, 'We are the sons of one man,' from brothers wanting to sell each other to identifying as one body.
Unfortunately, today four families are mourning their dead who were murdered by lowly terrorists. Today, we also need to strengthen the glue that holds us together. We will always stand together."