UPDATE: Police confirmed that the body of Aaron Sofer has been found by search and rescue volunteers in the Jerusalem Forest. The remains have been sent for forensic investigation. Police are still investigation the cause of death, but it now appears dehydration is the likeliest culprit.
The Israel Police this week expanded the search for missing American yeshiva student Aaron Sofer amid fears that he had been abducted by Hamas or another Palestinian terror group.
The 23-year-old Orthodox student was last seen while hiking with a classmate in the Jerusalem Forest last Friday. According to earlier reports, Sofer and his friend became separate while navigating their way down a steep slope.
The Sofer family, which is now in Israel, has offered 100,000 shekels to anyone who can provide information authorities to locate Aaron. The family has also requested that the Israeli army get involved in the search effort, as they are increasingly fearful that Sofer was abducted by terrorists.
Israeli authorities have stressed that at present they have no firm evidence of a terrorist abduction, but confirmed that the circumstances surrounding Sofer’s disappearance are pointing in that direction.
While no terror group has claimed responsibility for taking Sofer, that is not necessarily unusual even in a kidnapping situation. Hamas initially denied abducting and executing Israeli yeshiva students Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel earlier this summer, only to later take credit for what it called a “heroic operation.”