A year after the abduction and murder of Israeli teenagers Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Sha'ar, and Eyal Yifrah, police inaugurated a new emergency hotline on Monday night – in an attempt to reduce the traffic on the 100 hotline, one factor found responsible in the teens' deaths.
The new 110 hotline will consist of a non-emergency line, reducing the burden on the police's primary 100 hotline. It has also been outfitted with new technology enabling it to remain functional even in the event of nationwide power failure or downed cell service.
The unit was formed after administrative work coordinated by former Deputy Police Commissioner, Maj. Gen. Nissim Mor, which determined that from 8.5 million calls received annually on the main hotline, 40% of them do not deal with emergencies.
The investigation was also launched after the 100 hotline failed critically to help the teenagers after they called for help, shortly after being abducted.
The fateful call, which took place at 10:25 p.m. on June 12, 2014 lasted in total for 2:09 minutes – most of which was comprised of the police trying to resume contact after the caller was abruptly cut off.
Some of the tape consists of garbled pleas by Gilad for help, with the police respondent saying “hello?” in response, apparently not understanding what is being said to him. Eventually he does get the message and asks the youth where he is, but at that point, Gilad is cut off.
In the background, various noises are heard including shouts by the kidnappers at the youths to “keep their heads down,” an Israel Radio program, and several gunshots – and, it was later revealed, singing by the terrorists.
Police apparently thought that the call was a hoax, and ignored it until the parents of one of the youths filed a missing person's report at 3:00 a.m. It was still several hours before police connected the frantic call with the report.
The Israel Police have faced intense criticism over the abduction, even after five officers were dismissed following an internal investigation.
Closing a circle
The Frenkel and Sha'ar families were present at the ceremony to make the hotline live on Monday, and noted that the process closes a circle.
"For us, with all the pain that we have, we still appreciate the Israeli police and security forces," Ofir Sha'ar, Gilad's father, stated to Walla! News, noting that the family has been in close contact with police throughout the year after the murders. "I am of the opinion that behind every computer center stands a man who is supposed to address and resolve cases that will save future lives."
"It is the responsibility of every person who is behind the other side to know Gilad's story and that his act of heroism can save lives," he added.
Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino said at the ceremony that "police services are provided to citizens, as is their availability, with the understanding that professional and courteous service to the citizens leads to achieving the overall objective, which is strengthening the sense of personal security and increasing trust in the police."
"Gilad Sha'ar was a brave and tough boy who, in moments of fear and terror, acted calmly and with remarkable resourcefulness," Danino continued. "He did the right thing by calling the 100 hotline of the Israeli police, but unfortunately, as we have heard in the chilling recording, the damned murderers never gave them a chance."
The police commissioner said he wanted to promote a change in legislation that would allow the 100 operator to see the caller on a map (i.e. via satellite tracking – ed.), but that such drastic measures have not yet been approved under law.
Therefore, the commissioner explained, it was decided to develop the "Find Me" app. The application is based on sending a text message to the 100 hotline, which will then relay to the police where the caller is. According to Danino, the app has helped to save many people in the short time in which it operates.