Illinois elected officials react to murder of Israeli teens

The following is a collection of statements from elected officials representing the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois and the United States that were issued upon the discovery of the bodies of kidnapped and murdered Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel:

“On behalf of every resident of the City of Chicago, I extend my deepest sympathies to the families of Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach, and Gilad Shaar  and the State of Israel.

Chicago has always been a city with a big heart. But that heart is broken by the devastating loss of these three boys. As a father of three teenagers myself, I cannot begin to imagine the pain that their families are experiencing during this time of grief and tragedy. I echo the statements from President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and others who have condemned the murder of Naftali, Eyal, and Gilad in the strongest possible terms.

Today and every day, the City of Big Shoulders stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel. May their memories be for a blessing.”

Governor Pat Quinn:

“I am shocked and saddened by the tragic murders of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel.There are no words in the English language to comfort a parent who loses a child.On behalf of the people of Illinois, I send our sincere thoughts and prayers to their families and the State of Israel as they mourn this great tragedy.”

Senator Dick Durbin:

“This tragic killing of three Israeli teenagers is heartbreaking on a personal and family level and will set back our efforts to find peace in a Middle East. Those who are responsible should be brought to justice.”

Senator Mark Kirk:

"It is with a heavy heart that I express my sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach. I join the voices of outrage and stand with Israel in its efforts to hold those responsible for this heinous act accountable. At the expense of innocent young lives we are reminded once again, that Israel does not have a viable partner for peace. I thank JUF for bringing our community together so that we may seek comfort and strength in each other."

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle:

"The loss of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yirfrach is a senseless tragedy. While there is no place in the world for any act of terror, those which target innocent children are especially horrific. I join the people of Israel and the Jewish community around the world in mourning the loss of these three promising lives and hope that those responsible for this act will be brought to justice."

Rep. Cheri Bustos:  

“My heart goes out to the families of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach. As a mother of three, I am devastated and horrified by the news of these boys’ deaths. I wish to express my deepest condolences to their loved ones. We must ensure that those responsible for these murders are apprehended and held accountable for their heinous crimes.”

Rep. Danny Davis:

I was profoundly saddened and dismayed to learn of deaths of the three Israeli teenagers, Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaer, and Naftali Frenkel who were abducted by Palestinian terrorists last Thursday night.  I extend my deepest sympathy to the families of these young men.

I condemn these murders and call on all parties to cooperate to ensure that those who carried the murders be brought to justice.  I renew my statement of June 30, 2014 that “The victimization of children is both horrifying and repelling and no party to any dispute is justified morally or legally to use children as pawns.” 

I do not know how many Palestinian and Israeli children have died.  I understand that B'Tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, puts total child casualties between September 29, 2000 and September 30, 2012 at Israelis: 129; Palestinians: 1337.  While these specific figures may be disputed it is clear that child deaths continue at epidemic levels.  My fear is that these deaths will lead to another cycle of deaths. 

I cannot help but recall the deaths 50 years ago of three brave American teenagers: Mickey Schwerner, Andy Goodman, and James Earl Chaney.  Their ultimate sacrifice and the ultimate sacrifice of hundreds of others like them whose names we don’t often remember, were part of the history of a struggle which led to the still on-going struggle for peace and justice and equality here in the United States.  My prayer today is that the tragic deaths of  Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaer, and Naftali Frenkel will some how, some way, raise the urgency of finding a non-violent path to a lasting peace with equality and justice for all Israeli and Palestinian people.

Rep. Rodney Davis:

“My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the three Israeli boys who were kidnapped by Hamas and who have now been found murdered. The collective heart of the United States grieves with the Israeli people at this extremely difficult time. The barbarous terrorists who carried out this cowardly act must be held accountable.”

Rep. Tammy Duckworth:

“I wish to extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of Eyal Yirach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel. This senseless act of violence carried out against these three young students is truly appalling and a threat to all those pursuing peace. It is in times of grief that we often find our strength and we must recommit ourselves towards working for peace and justice in the Middle East and throughout the world.”

Rep. Bill Enyart:

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these young men. As a father of two sons, I simply cannot imagine the pain they are facing.  I trust that those responsible for these brutal murders will be swiftly brought to justice.”

Rep. Luis Gutierrez:

“It is with deep sadness and sorrow that I greet those gathered at the Loop Synagogue to mourn the murders of three teenagers before their lives had barely started. The discovery of the bodies of Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach, and Gil-ad Shaar was heartbreaking. We dream for peace in the Middle East as we dream for peace in Chicago and throughout the world. Yet the nightmare of violence, murder, and hatred too often awakens us. We must recommit ourselves every day to the fight for justice and the peace that comes with justice.”

Rep. Dan Lipinski

“I am outraged and saddened by this heinous act of terrorism. My prayers go out to their families and friends. I stand with the people of Israel as they work to bring justice in this case.”

Rep. Mike Quigley:

“I join the people of Israel in grieving for the loss of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali, three Jewish teenagers kidnapped and murdered two weeks ago in the West Bank. Acts of terror are unacceptable, but are especially heinous when they target innocent children. My thoughts are with the children's parents, families and friends, and it is my hope that those responsible will be swiftly brought to justice”

Rep. Peter Roskam:

“I am deeply saddened to join with you today in mourning the tragic loss of three young lives.  Naftali Frankel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach were victims of a senseless crime.  To their families and friends, I send my deepest condolences.  For our two countries, I pray for peace and direction for the United States and Israel.

It is especially painful that the events bringing us together today came at the hands of terrorism.  These three young students took no part in any conflict, yet they were targeted as enemy combatants.  As a father, this devastating cruelty weighs heavily on my heart. 

My wife Elizabeth and I pray for peace and healing for those suffering from this brutal loss, for the boys’ families, and for this one.  Whether we are gathered in Chicago or Hebron, New York City or Jerusalem, we are all visited by our own mortality today, reminded that we live in a dangerous, deeply imperfect world.

We don’t yet know the full picture about the perpetrators of this horrendous crime.   We may never know what business innovation, what medical breakthrough, what acts of public distinction could have been achieved in these promising young lives.  But we can be secure in our knowledge that the U.S. and Israel will continue to support each other, and we can be firm in our resolve to come together to find more compassion, and more patience, and more wisdom as we strive to work through our differences, to forgive our trespassers, and to create a better world that knows a just and lasting and secure peace.

At a time when few things are certain, we can indelibly commit ourselves to ensuring that Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal’s lives were not lost in vain.  

I am grateful to the Israeli soldiers who worked tirelessly to locate and rescue these boys.  We all hoped for an outcome far different than the one we commemorate today.  I know the Israeli Government will commit every resource to bringing the boys’ attackers to justice.  Let us hope that justice is merely a beginning, and not an end, and that Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal’s memories live on in our actions from this day forward.”

Rep. Bobby Rush 

“I express my deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the families of the three innocent victims of this tragedy. I strongly condemn violence perpetrated against children, wherever it may occur, and urge Israel and the Palestinian Authority to work diligently to ensure that the perpetrators of this crime are brought to justice.”

Rep. Jan Schakowsky:

“I wish to express my deepest condolences to the families of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel.  Like so many others around the world, I had hoped for their safe return, but unfortunately our worst fears have been realized.  These innocent children were intentionally and brutally murdered. Such a heinous act cannot go unpunished or without universal condemnation. We must ensure that those responsible are caught and held accountable for their crimes.”

Rep. Brad Schneider:

“I extend my sincerest condolences to the families of Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Sha’ar, as well as to all the people of Israel.  As a father, I can’t fully convey the sadness I feel in learning of these young boys’ death, nor can I imagine the anguish of their parents. The kidnapping and murder of three teenage students—children just ages 16 and 19—is an outrage and shows the cowardice, brutality and lack of humanity of the perpetrators. Hamas is an internationally recognized terrorist organization and should be treated as such.  I pray for comfort for the Yifrah, Frenkel and Sha’ar families in their time of mourning, and I pray that the people responsible for these children’s death are swiftly brought to justice.” 

Rep. Aaron Schock:

“The tragic deaths of the three Israeli teenagers after weeks of search and attempts at diplomatic resolution underscore the present threat of terror faced every day in the Middle East and around the world. The pain felt by these families, and the outrage of the Israeli people cannot be addressed sufficiently by mere calming words and cool administrative detachment. American foreign policy for generations has demanded unyielding support of Israel, and that support continues as our strategic ally seeks justice for these murders. Terrorists and terror-sponsoring regimes must have no doubt where the United States stands, nor question about our resolve to employ the full force of diplomatic and strategic military assets to bring terrorists to justice. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of these slain teenagers, and for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he leads Israel through another dark night on the path to peace.”

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