Naftali Frenkel, 16, is an American-Israeli teenager believed to have been kidnapped in the West Bank on the evening of June 12. The disappearance of Frenkel and two other Israeli teens has caused increased media attention to the situation in the West Bank as well as a ramp-up in Israeli security forces’ presence and action in the region.
Meanwhile, Frenkel’s ties to Brooklyn have prompted vigils in New York.
Here’s what you need to know about Frenkel, his kidnapping, and the escalated tensions in the region.
1. Frenkel Was Reportedly Hitchhiking in the West Bank
The Washington Post reports that the three teens, including Naftali Frenkel, were hitchhiking home from their religious school in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank when they went missing.
Israeli authorities believe the three went missing outside the historic city of Hebron in the West Bank.
2. He Went Missing with Gilad Shaar & Eyal Yifrach
According to CBS, the three students, Frenkel, 16, Eyal Yifrach, 19, and Gilad Shaar, 16, were heading home. Two were heading to towns in Israel, and one to an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
3. His Grandparents Are From Brooklyn
According to Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, Frenkel and his six siblings all retain American citizenship because their parents immigrated to Israel from Brookyn, New York, in 1956. Although Frenkel has only visited the United States a few times, many of his aunts, uncles and cousins live in the New York City area.
4. Vigils Occurred Outside the Israeli Consulate in NYC
On Monday, New York Jewish groups held a vigil outside the Israeli consulate to draw attention to the kidnappings. Demonstrators held signs that read “Bring Back our Boys,” repurposing the popular “Bring Back Our Girls” hashtag used earlier this year to raise media attention of the kidnapping of hundreds of girls from a school in eastern Nigeria.
CBS New York reports that a few hundred people, some carrying Israeli flags, showed up at the vigil.
5. Israel Blames Hamas & Has Launched a Massive Crackdown
On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the press, “Those who perpetrated the abduction of our youths were members of Hamas — the same Hamas that [Palestinian President] Abu Mazen made a unity government with. This has severe repercussions.”
The statement was followed by an intensive Israeli military operation in the West Bank, which led to the arrest of over 150 Palestinians believed to be connected to the abductions. The raids have spurred the ire of local residents who claimed Israeli soldiers used explosives and dogs to raid homes.
The operation is being described as Israel’s largest crackdown on Hamas in nearly a decade.
As a result of the raids, one 19-year-old Palestinian in the Jelazoun refugee camp was shot dead in a clash with Israeli forces as the search for the missing teens widens.