Is­rael set to try kid­nap hoaxer who sparked West Bank hunt

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Two Is­raeli men were re­manded in cus­tody Fri­day af­ter al­legedly rais­ing a false alarm of a pos­si­ble kid­nap­ping by Pales­tinian mil­i­tants in the West Bank to im­press an ex-girl­friend.

The hoax re­port cen­tered on the same area of the oc­cu­pied West Bank where three Is­raeli teenagers were kid­napped and mur­dered less than a year ago.

It sent hun­dreds of sol­diers, po­lice and agents of the Shin Bet se­cu­rity agency ham­mer­ing on the doors of fright­ened Pales­tinian vil­lagers as they searched house- to- house in the hills around He­bron.

A hear­ing in Jerusalem mag­is­trates court found that one of the men, 22-year-old Niv As­raf, had con­cocted his own dis­ap­pear­ance to try to win back his ex­girl­friend.

A court tran­script seen by AFP said the ob­ject was “to make his girl­friend con­cerned for him.”

“He said he was seek­ing at­ten­tion,” Bri­gadier Gen­eral Moti Al­moz, the chief mil­i­tary spokesman, told Is­rael’s Chan­nel Two tele­vi­sion.

Me­dia re­ports said the plan was that af­ter go­ing miss­ing As­raf would reap­pear in a few days, claim­ing to have made a dar­ing es­cape from his cap­tors.

What po­lice said turned into a mil­lion-shekel (240,000-euro) man­hunt started on Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

As­raf’s friend, Eran Na­gauker, told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that the two had been trav­el­ing to­gether when a tire on their ve­hi­cle blew out near the Pales­tinian vil­lage of Beit Anun.

As­raf set out to seek help but failed to re­turn to the car, his com­pan­ion told po­lice.

The vil­lage be­came the fo­cal point of the Is­raeli search, with troops flood­ing into the area to search homes and fields and set up road­blocks, an AFP jour­nal­ist at the scene said.

The Jerusalem Post said that sus­pi­cions about the re­port of a kid­nap­ping were aroused early on when se­cu­rity forces ar­riv­ing at the car found noth­ing wrong with the tires.

As­raf was

tracked down

at around mid­night camped out in a dry river bed in the sprawl­ing Jewish set­tle­ment of Kiryat Arba, next to He­bron, po­lice and the mil­i­tary said.

He was equipped with a sleep­ing bag and a sup­ply of tinned food, they said.

“Took me 10 sec­onds to go from re­lief to anger fol­low­ing this prank kid­nap­ping,” army spokesman Lieu­tenant Colonel Peter Lerner wrote on his of­fi­cial Twit­ter ac­count.

Both men are ac­cused of giv­ing false ev­i­dence, breach of public or­der and ob­struct­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer in the per­for­mance of his duty.

The June 2014 killings of three teenagers in the He­bron area trig­gered a se­ries of events that led to the dev­as­tat­ing 50-day war in the Gaza Strip.

That in­ci­dent sparked a mas­sive West Bank man­hunt in which hun­dreds of Pales­tini­ans were ar­rested and at least five killed.

In July, a 16-year-old Pales­tinian, Mo­hammed Abu Khder, was kid­napped from east Jerusalem and burned to death in a sus­pected Jewish re­venge attack.

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