The IDF and Israel Police are seriously considering the possibility that Eliyahu Asheri, aged 18, from Itamar, was kidnapped at a hitchhiking post. Soldiers and policemen from the Judea and Samaria district began intensive searches for the missing youth, with the primary focus in Ramallah and Bethlehem. Police said concerns were high for the Asheri's life.
Soon after IDF forces raided Gaza at around 2:30 a.m., Popular Resistance Committees spokesman Abu Abir said the group would kill Asheri if Israeli forces do not pull out of Gaza.
The PRC's original claim that they had kidnapped a settler was published Monday night by Ynet. On Tuesday, Asheri's father filed a missing-person's report with the Ariel police department for his son, who had been missing since Sunday. The father said his son often went for trips without keeping daily contact his parents, and therefore he did not file the report earlier.
According to current information, Asheri, who studies in a pre-military mechina (preparatory program), left his friend's house in Beitar Ilit, south of Jerusalem, on Sunday and has not made contact with his family since.
Arieh Goldman, from the settlement secretariat in Itamar, told Ynet: "On 9:00 p.m. Sunday night, one of Asheri's classmates saw him for the last time hitchhiking near the French Hill (in Jerusalem). No one has seen him since then…He was on the way to a fieldtrip"
"We have been sitting with the family since this (Tuesday) afternoon. We have an emergency committee in the settlement who is taking care of the family. The community supports them. Awareness has been heightened since the kidnapping in Gaza," Goldman said.
A spokesperson for the Popular Resistance Committees, Abu Abir, confirmed to Ynet for the second time in less than 24 hours that his group kidnapped an Israeli settler.
Abu Abir said his group refused to release any information about the kidnapped Israeli or details of the operation that led to his alleged capture.
"We won't give information for free," Abu Abir said.
Another spokesperson for the Popular Resistance Committees told Ynet that the missing young settler from Itamar was kidnapped on Sunday. "Eliyahu Asheri was kidnapped on Sunday," Mohammad Abdelal said, referring to the 18-year-old settler by name. Abdelal said his group set up a special unit to carry out kidnappings under an operation called "Cavaliers' Wrath."
New security instructions for settlers
The security establishment has dozens of warnings indicating that Palestinian terrorists intend on carrying out attack against Israeli targets, including kidnapping soldiers and settlers.
The kidnapping of an American citizen in Nablus two weeks ago and the failed attempt to kidnap two settlers while hitchhiking in the West Bank eleven days ago prompted the IDF to issue new security instructions for settlers.
Security officers in West Bank settlements have been instructed to man hitchhiking spots. Police and the Border Guard have also been advised to intensify patrols in and around settlements and hitchhiking spots.
Hitchhiking settlers have also been advised to chat with the drivers before agreeing to get in the car and to avoid traveling with Palestinian drivers.
Ali Waked contributed to this report