(Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90) (Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

United with Israel, together with the entire nation of Israel, was devastated by the news of the brutal murder of three innocent boys by blood-thirsty terrorists. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims. Their children are our children and their pain is our pain.

Grieving at the funeral for their beloved friends. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Grieving at the funeral for their beloved friends. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

During the 18-day search for teenagers Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Sha’ar and Naftali Frankel, who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists on June 12, the people of Israel were united in love and in the hope of finding them alive and well.

The families, and the mothers in particular, won the hearts of the nation with their dignified efforts to find their children, expressing optimism and appreciation to the IDF, the Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) and all others involved in the search. They also acknowledged the love and support of the Israeli people as well as Jewish communities and decent people around the world.

United with Israel Executive Director signs book of well wishes on Sunday at Frankel home. (Photo: UWI)

United with Israel Executive Director signs book of well wishes on Sunday at Frankel home. (Photo: UWI)

Thus the news that the boys had been shot to death was devastating; hundreds of thousands flocked to the funeral, walking for almost an hour each way in the intense heat from the closest parking area, to grieve with the families. They included ultra-orthodox, national-religious and secular Jews, young and old. Indeed, elderly people could be seen walking at their own pace towards the burial site, determined to participate in the final goodbye to the innocent children whom they had come to consider as their own.

Before the discovery of the corpses, United with Israel launched a campaign in support of the intensive search for the abducted boys. Funds were raised from around the world to cover the cost of extra supplies for the soldiers involved in the search and rescue effort.

Hundreds of thousands attended funeral on Tuesday. (Photo: UWI)

Hundreds of thousands attended funeral on Tuesday. (Photo: UWI)

UWI founder Michael Gerbitz and his wife Bonnie, along with executive director David Zeit and senior writer/editor Atara Beck, visited the Frankel home in Nof Ayalon on Sunday – a day before the bodies were found – to express support and determine the needs of the families. While the intention was to offer support, the Frankel family, including a grandmother, somehow managed to comfort their visitors with their positive attitude. Indeed, they are a special and noble family.

UWI had also intended to meet with the Sha’ar and Yifrach families, but those plans ended with the tragic news the following day.

Now that the search is over, UWI will continue to use the generously donated funds to cover the cost of equipment for the soldiers that is not provided by the army, such as hydration packs and knee pads.

Written by: United with Israel Staff