Local Jewish community mourns kidnapped teens

INDIANAPOLIS - Members from Jewish communities around central Indiana gathered Tuesday to remember the three teens that were kidnapped and killed in Israel.

Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, a 16-year-old with dual Israeli-American citizenship, disappeared June 12 while hitchhiking home from the Jewish seminaries where they were studying near the West Bank city of Hebron. Despite the dangers, hitchhiking is common among Israelis traveling in and out of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

MORE: Bodies of missing Israeli teens found in West Bank

With grief and sorrow, local members of the Jewish community prayed for the teens, their families and the safety of those in Israel.

"As Americans who don't live with a daily fear, seeing these boys taken from us -- one of whom was an American -- studying in Israel, learning and giving his life to the land of Israel, certainly unites us as a people and as a community," Executive Director of the Bureau of Jewish Education Rabbi Paula Jayne Winnig said.

Israel blames the Islamic militant group Hamas for the kidnapping and deaths. The kidnappers have not yet been caught.

"As Jews, we share in their grief, and in the collective pain of the people of Israel. We stand in solidarity with the government and people of the State of Israel during this tragic event and hope that the perpetrators of this heinous act of terrorism and senseless murders will be swiftly brought to justice," the Jewish Federation and Jewish Community Relations Council said in a statement.

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