A Palestinian man abducted and killed an Israeli soldier whose body was found in the north of the occupied West Bank, in the hope that he could trade the body in exchange for the release of his jailed brother.
An army spokesman said the soldier “was kidnapped and killed by a Palestinian near Qalqiliya yesterday [Friday] and his body was found” on Saturday in a well.
Twenty-year-old Sgt. Tomer Hazan was reported missing late on Friday and Israeli forces began looking for him.
The search led the troops to Nidal Amar, a 42-year-old Palestinian from Beit Amin, a village near the city of Qalqiliya in the northern West Bank.
Amar told Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet that he had killed the soldier, whom he knew because he worked together with him at a restaurant in the coastal city of Bat Yam in central Israel, the agency said.
Amar recounted how he had picked up the soldier in a taxi on Friday after convincing him to accept a ride. After talking the soldier into joining him, he took the Israeli to an open field, killed him and hid his body in a well.
A senior military official told The Associated Press that initial investigations suggested that Palestinian individuals planned the attack on their own, not on the orders of any groups. The official did not elaborate on who else may have been involved in the plot besides Amar.
He was hoping to trade the soldier’s body for his brother, who was jailed by Israel in 2003 for an alleged connection to several attacks.
Al Jazeera’s Peter Sharp, reporting from Jerusalem, said “arrests are continuing. Six to eight people have been arrested, some of them members of Nidal’s family.”
The killing could deal a new blow to US-led peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which resumed in July after a nearly five-year break.
The deaths of several Palestinians in Israeli arrest raids in the West Bank intended to detain fighters involved in attacks have further soured the atmosphere between the two sides.