The families of abducted IDF soldiers joined with scores of teenagers in a ceremony at Muchraka on Mount Carmel on Tuesday to pray and press for the speedy return of the captives.
Miki and Shlomo Goldwasser, parents of Ehud, and Zvi and Atara Regev, parents of Eldad, met with 12th-graders from the Yemin Orde Youth Village as the teenagers, immigrants from Ethiopia, the former Soviet Union and Brazil, were nearing the end of a 106-km. Challenge Hike from Mount Arbel near Lake Kinneret to the village on Mount Carmel overlooking the Mediterranean.
The teenagers dedicated the three-day hike to the kidnapped soldiers. They wore T-shirts with photographs of Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev, Gilad Shalit and IAF navigator Ron Arad. On Monday - the 20th anniversary of the day on which Arad was captured after ejecting from his stricken plane over Lebanon - the young hikers carried blue balloons as a symbol of the Born Free campaign for his return.
"I was very moved by the ceremony and the feelings expressed by these young people, who are all immigrants," said Zvi Regev at Tuesday's ceremony. "It helps give me a lot of strength and support and hope that if these children came home to Israel then so will our boys."
Miki Goldwasser said she had met many people from the highest levels since Ehud and Eldad were kidnapped by Hizbullah on July 12 but that she had never been so moved. She said they had not received any information about the condition of Ehud and Eldad.
"We don't know if they are alive or dead... Most European countries, as well as the US, are now raising money to help, for humanitarian purposes in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Lebanon, which we completely support. We believe, however, that alongside this major aid step we should be allowed, also for purely humanitarian reasons, to receive information about our sons and, at the very least, to know if they are alive. I don't think it would be too much for the European countries to demand this in return for the humanitarian aid they are going to give Lebanon," said Miki Goldwasser.