American citizen and father of five Moshe Eliezer Ilovitz went missing in Israel one Saturday morning six weeks ago. It is hard to believe, but there are as many as 100,000 active missing persons in the United States at any given time. In Israel the numbers are much smaller but substantial. Each year about 30 people in Israel leave home and go missing. Families often turn to private investigators out of frustration with the police and other agencies. Yekutiel “Mike” Ben Yaakov, a volunteer who leads a canine search unit, claims the police in Israel are just not up to the task of finding missing persons. Frustrated families often turn to him but usually too late. The search for Moshe Eliezer Ilovitz is active and ongoing. The difference is that he is an American citizen. It means that not only does the Israeli law enforcement establishment and its political leaders have an obligation to find him, but American governmental officials have an obligation to find him as well.
Unfortunately, the last time I was involved in a missing person’s case was after the disappearance of the “three boys,” Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrah, on June 12, 2014. Several days later I arranged a Fox interview with Naftali Fraenkel’s mother, Rachel, and Mike Huckabee who had a show on Fox at the time. We did not know they had been murdered by Hamas at the time. On June 30, 2014, their bodies were found. On July 8, 2014, Israel launched “Operation Protective Edge” as a result.
Although no foul play was noted at the scene of Moshe Eliezer Ilovitz’ disappearance, nothing of his personal effects other than a tallit were taken, raising the specter of a kidnapping or an abduction.
Moshe Eliezer (“Elie”) was born in Brooklyn in 1982. He studied at Yeshiva Neve Tzion in Israel. He lived with his wife and five children in Moshav Mevo Modiim. Elie had been commuting to the United States, working in finance. Six weeks ago, he was in Meron, like thousands of others prior to Lag BaOmer, when he went missing. The last time he was seen was on Shabbat before Lag BaOmer at noon. Elie’s family has been working feverishly and tirelessly to find him. They are extremely distraught. They have offered a 50,000 NIS reward. They implore anyone and everyone who may have seen him to call the Israel Dog Hotline at 054-487-6709.
American officials can be very helpful. Israeli political figures must get involved. The media could help tremendously here as well. We must realize that it is an obligation upon everyone to find Moshe Eliezer Ilovitz as soon as possible.
Joseph M. Frager is a physician and lifelong activist.