Israel to try lovesick kidnap hoaxer who sparked West Bank hunt – AFP
Jerusalem (AFP) – Two Israeli men were remanded in custody Friday after they raised a false alarm of a possible kidnapping by Palestinian militants in the West Bank to impress an ex-girlfriend.
The hoax report, centring on the same area of the occupied West Bank where three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered less than a year ago, 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 Hebron district.
A hearing in Jerusalem magistrates court found that one of the men, Niv Asraf, had concocted his own disappearance to try to win back his ex-girlfriend.
Media reports said the plan was that after going missing he 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, said the two had been travelling together when a tyre 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 flooded into the area searching homes and fields and setting up roadblocks, an AFP journalist at the scene said.
Asraf was found around midnight camped out in a dry river bed in the sprawling Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, next to Hebron, police said.
Both men are accused of giving false evidence, breach of public order and obstruction 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 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.