Worldwide protests and further arrests in ongoing search for kidnapped students

IDF soldiers search for the missing teens (Photo: IDF)

IDF soldiers search for the missing teens (Photo: IDF)

Israel's efforts to rescue three kidnapped teenagers continued late Tuesday night, with the arrest of 64 Palestinians – including 51 prisoners who were released in 2011 in exchange for soldier Gilad Shalit.

An IDF spokesperson confirmed that forces had “detained the suspects in the Judea and Samaria region” and were “working around the clock, on all fronts, to find Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Frenkel”.

The yeshivah students, who were last seen in the area surrounding Hebron in the West Bank, were kidnapped last Thursday by suspected Hamas terrorists.

Since then, an international campaign has gone viral, with leading figures and Jewish groups rallying both on the streets and on social media for the return of the students, using: #BringBackOurBoys and #EyalGiladNaftali.

Protests and vigils in the US and the UK have brought thousands of people together, while in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s Jewish community held a demonstration on Tuesday close to the stadium of the Fifa World Cup.

Meanwhile, the “Bring Back Our Boys” Facebook group has attracted 96 million followers worldwide.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Tuesday night’s arrests - which have now added to the list of more than 200 suspects detained by the IDF - saying they sent “an important message that is part of a series of many actions that will continue” until the students are found.

In the UK, the campaign in support of the boys' families has gained momentum, with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and former chief rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks calling for their freedom.

Ed Miliband also sent his support to the movement on Tuesday while speaking at the Labour Friends of Israel lunch.

The Labour leader told his audience: “I am sure all our thoughts today are with the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers, Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach and their families. We all profoundly hope for their speedy and safe return.”

Last updated: 10:37am, June 18 2014