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Mineola gathering condemns Israeli teens' kidnapping

Roberta Post of West Hempstead, with the Jewish

Roberta Post of West Hempstead, with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Long Island, community and religious leaders and public officials join in solidarity and prayer with the people of Israel and the families of three Israeli teenagers kidnapped two weeks ago as they made their way home from school, in Mineola on Thursday, June 26, 2014. Credit: Howard Schnapp

State officials, religious leaders and Nassau County residents Thursday condemned the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank and called on community members to show support for the missing youths.

About 50 people attended a news conference in Mineola hosted by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Long Island that included speeches from Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, state Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola), and Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove).

"Every parent who sends his kids to school every day -- in Long Island or in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem -- knows that they want them back and can imagine the feeling of not having them," Shahar Azani, a spokesman for the Consulate General of Israel in New York, said in an interview after he spoke at the event.

On June 12, Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Frenkel, 16, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen, disappeared on their way home from school in Gush Etzion. Israel has identified suspects from Hamas, but no one has claimed credit for their disappearance.

Speakers condemned the kidnapping as an act of terrorism and urged the public to contact their local officials, speak out on social media and make their voices heard.

Hannah Friedler, who described herself as a Nassau County resident, said her grandson is an Israeli soldier and part of the search and rescue team.

She said she is concerned about her family's safety.

"It's difficult to sleep," she said. "You wake up in the morning, the first thing you do is go to the Internet and look and see and make sure that everything is OK."

She said she would like to see a bigger response from the U.S. government.

"Michelle Obama tweeted 'Bring our girls back,' " referring to hundreds of young women kidnapped in Nigeria. "What about our boys?" she said. "I'm disappointed that there's no support."

Lavine said the government is doing everything that "international diplomacy" allows. "It would be better if we could find out where they were and go and get them, but things just simply don't work that way," he said.

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