Friday, April 3

Israeli who fabricated kidnap story 'was looking for attention,' army says

Israeli youth who fabricated a missing person's report, which 
prompted a massive manhunt by security forces near Hebron
 on Thursday, was "looking for attention," the army's top 
spokesperson told Channel 2 on Friday.

Brig.-Gen. Moti Almoz recounted the tense hours during
 which large contingents of soldiers and police concentrated
forces in the southern West Bank in a frantic search for
 Niv Asraf, the Beersheba native who falsified a distress call.

"The army did not let up until we understood beyond 
any doubt that we could call off the massive search,"
 Almoz said. "During those hours, we were focused
 on finding a kidnapped person alive."

Police said they view the incident with the utmost severity
 in particular due to what they said was a "major waste of 
resources for all of the security services."

Police said Asraf, 22 from Beersheba, was found 
alive and well in a dry creek bed outside Kiryat Arba, 
with a sleeping bag and a supply of canned goods. 
They added that the investigation against Asraf and
 his friend is ongoing.

A massive search for Asraf was launched late Thursday 
afternoon, after police received a call at 4:17 p.m. from
 Asaraf's friend, who said he and a friend got a flat tire 
near Hebron, on the road between Kiryat Arba and the 
Palestinian village Beit Anoun. Police said he told them
 his friend, Asraf, walked off to get tools to change the
 flat tire, but did not return.

The report was taken as a possible kidnapping from the
 first moments, and soon hundreds of soldiers and security
 personnel were combing the area and blocking traffic on
 nearby roads in the hunt for Asraf, also carrying out 
searches in Palestinian homes in Beit Anoun.  

After responding to the call, security forces also noticed
 that the car did not have a flat tire. Other aspects of the
 story didn't add up, and under questioning, Asraf's friend
 contradicted himself to investigators. 

Ben Hartman contributed to this report.

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