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Pop singer Tony Orlando visits families of missing Israeli teens, appeals for their release

FILE - Tony Orlando reflects on the ups and downs in his career during an interview in Branson, Mo. in this June 24, 1998 file photo. In a videotaped statement Tuesday June 17, 2014 from the home of one of the teens' families, Orlando said he was on a pilgrimage in Israel and was encouraged by friends and Israelis at his hotel to do something in support of the teens. (AP Photo/John S. Stewart, File)

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FILE - Tony Orlando reflects on the ups and downs in his career during an interview in Branson, Mo. in this June 24, 1998 file photo. In a videotaped statement Tuesday June 17, 2014 from the home of one of the teens' families, Orlando said he was on a pilgrimage in Israel and was encouraged by friends and Israelis at his hotel to do something in support of the teens. (AP Photo/John S. Stewart, File)

JERUSALEM - Tony Orlando, the popular 1970s American pop singer, said he visited the families of three Israeli teens missing in the West Bank, and called on his fans to hang three yellow ribbons in solidarity with the youths.

The teens disappeared while returning home late last Thursday from their Jewish seminary in the West Bank. Israel believes the militant group Hamas abducted the boys, and has launched its most significant military ground operation in more than five years to destroy Hamas infrastructure in the West Bank.

In a videotaped statement Tuesday from the home of one of the teens' families, Orlando said he was on a pilgrimage in Israel and was encouraged by friends and Israelis at his hotel to do something in support of the teens.

"I want Israel to know that I intend to go back home and do everything I can to ask the people of America to tie those yellow ribbons, three yellow ribbons, to show support for the three young Israeli boys," Orlando said.

The 70-year-old Orlando was the lead singer of the group Tony Orlando and Dawn. His 1973 No. 1 hit, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Ole Oak Tree," became an anthem when American prisoners of war returned from Vietnam, and again became popular with Americans with loved ones serving in Iraq.

The song lingers on in pop culture, and yellow ribbons often serve as a symbol for missing loved ones. In the hometown of recently freed U.S. prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl, trees have been bedecked with yellow ribbons.

"Children should not be touched," Orlando said, explaining his message. "To the captors: please bring those children home."

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