Few things could unite so much of the Knesset as a prayer service led by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein for the kidnapped boys Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah, Monday.
Opposition, coalition, left, right, religious- Zionist, haredi, secular, men, women, MKs, aides, Knesset staff, lobbyists and press – hundreds of people – squeezed into a conference room to say afternoon prayers and recite psalms.
Among those who attended the unprecedented prayer service were Edelstein, opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor), Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir, Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel and MKs from Yisrael Beytenu, Likud, Yesh Atid, Labor, Shas, UTJ and Hatnua.
Men and women prayed, many swaying with their eyes closed as they recited: “From the depths I call to you God, God hear my voice; May your ears listen to the sound of my beseeching request.”
At the end of the prayers, MK Itzhak Vaknin (Shas) blew the shofar, and the voices joined together in song: “All of Israel are brothers.”
Edelstein, who spent years in a Soviet prison, said he called the prayer service “out of hope and faith that the many prayers for the captives’ wellbeing will be answered soon.”
The message of unity continued throughout the day, as opposition parties canceled their no-confidence motions.
“This isn’t the time to express a lack of confidence in the government,” Shas leader Arye Deri explained in a faction meeting. “We need to stay united. This isn’t a sectorial issue.”
Deri also expressed hope that the unity will continue even after the captives are brought home and said he is “very impressed with [Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s] determination.”
Later, Edelstein opened the plenum meeting by saying everyone is tense and concerned about the three boys’ safety.
“They were kidnapped by terrorists in a clear attempt to cause fear and terror,” he said.
Edelstein pointed to the fact that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ wife was brought to Israel for surgery on Sunday was a testament to how much Israel values life while its enemies admire death.
“While Israel acts like a good neighbor, our neighbors show irresponsibility, incitement, hatred, schadenfreude, and a constant crossing of red lines in what is acceptable in national struggles,” Edelstein stated.
The Knesset Speaker concluded: “The Palestinian leadership and terror organizations must know that if one hair on the boys’ heads is harmed, none of them will be immune from Israel’s long arm.”
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