Police investigators are probing suspected criminal underworld links in the murder of an 18-year-old youth from an ultra-Orthodox family in Jerusalem whose body was found near a cemetery in the central city of Ramat Hasharon on Friday.
Police believe that Evyatar Azarzar was tricked into attending a meeting in the area with members of the criminal underworld whose identities are unclear, and was subsequently murdered.
According to a police officer of the Tel Aviv District investigation team, "this is not a place to which people arrive by accident."
The family of the 18-year-old reported his absence three weeks ago, although searches conducted at the time found no clue of his whereabouts.
An emergency call was made to the police on December 8 after gunshots were heard near Morasha Interchange, not far from where Azarzar's body was eventually discovered, but police officers dispatched to the area found nothing.
Last Wednesday, police requested the help of the public with the search for Azarzar.
Two days later, his body was recovered and identified in an isolated area after eyewitnesses saw the body in a pit.
Police investigators are now attempting to trace Azarzar's trail to his murder, with relatives telling them that the 18-year-old had been in trouble with several criminals and even conducted a dubious relationship with them.
As far as is known, Azarzar left his Jerusalem home and moved to the ultra-Orthodox central city of Bnei Brak, where he continued to dress as a Haredi Jew.
Police are investigating several lines of inquiry, including whether Azarzar was taken to the scene by force, shot dead and then thrown in the pit or if he was murdered at another location and then his body dumped where it was found. Police do believe that the murder was well thought out.
A close friend of the family said that Azarzar was a good boy, loved by his relatives and friends and that he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Investigators, however, suspect that Azarzar had information about an unidentified criminal and are therefore not excluding the possibility he was shot due to his connection to crime syndicates.
According to various family members and friends, Azarzar was kicked out of an ultra-Orthodox educational institution, which led him to criminal activity.
"He stopped going to his yeshiva studies, he didn't know how to make money and had to finance himself," a family friend said.
"In order to make money, he started making connections with criminals, it could be [the murder] was an honor thing."
Azarzar's funeral is planned for Monday at 12pm at the Sephardic cemetery on Mount HaMenuchot in Jerusalem.
First published: 13:14 , 12.29.19