Filed: 20:45 Israel Summer Time
Reports have been coming in for about four hours now that a young man hitch-hiking from the town of Beitar Illit, about 15 minutes away from Jerusalem to Joseph's Tomb near Sh'khém (Nablus) has been missing since Sunday.
Hillel Fendel, writing for Arutz Sheva, an independent news service in Israel, reports the following:
Arab sources in the PA said last night, and again today, that they had
kidnapped another Israeli. Eliyahu Asheri, 18, of Itamar, has not
been seen since he left Beitar Illit on Sunday.
Eliyahu, son of Miriam and Yitro Asheri, is a student at the pre-military yeshiva academy in N'vei Tzuf, in the western Binyamin area. He was last seen Sunday when he left a friend's home in Beitar Illit on his way north. He was to have joined his yeshiva colleagues on a trip to the Golan Heights, but the head of the academy called this morning to say that Eliyahu never arrived.
Volunteers are travelling now to, and have likely already arrived at, Beitar Illit, south of Jerusalem and west of Gush Etzion, to see if they can find a trace of the missing youth.
According to what a friend of his told the police yesterday afternoon, Eliyahu was seen last Sunday evening at the French Hill junction in northern Jerusalem, where hundreds of people wait for rides northward every day. This is a place guarded by Border Patrol and Israel Police Auxiliary units every weeknight to protect against shootings from the nearby Arab neighborhoods there.
The Arutz Sheva report continues,
The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) terrorist group announced late last night that it had kidnapped a 'settler.' Arutz-7 has learned that an emergency room has been established in Itamar.
According to the father's report to the police, Eliyahu has gone off by himself in the past. Apparently, the security establishment is convinced that the youth was kidnapped. A spokesman for the PRC confirmed to Ynet this afternoon that a settler had been kidnapped, but said he would not "give out information for free."
Hamas spokesmen threatened even more kidnappings, until all Arab prisoners in Israeli prisons are released, Arutz Sheva reported.
From what MK Yuval Shteinitz (Likud) told Arutz-7, it is his opinion that it is easier to find a kidnapped Israeli in Judea and Samaria than in Gaza.
Asked what he feels should be Israel's strategy today, the Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the previous Knesset said, "Beyond the problem of Kassams and a kidnapped soldier, a Palestinian Hizbullah is being formed under our noses in Gaza, with tens of thousands of young Arabs training to fight against us – and yet Israel does nothing about it."
Shteinitz continued that in the short range, Israel must close down Gazan
infrastructures, as well as target Hamas leaders. "Ultimately, there will be no choice but to go into Gaza, as I have long proposed, and carry out another massive offensive like Operation Defensive Shield (a massive incusion into the Arab cities of Judea and Samaria to 'clean out' terrorists in 2002 which resulted in the effective of imprisonment of them PLO 'Rais' Yassir Arafat in the Mukata compound in Ramallah)."
The strategy of the Likud MK may not be followed at all. This morning, Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA reported that a Voice of Israel reporter had indicated that the Israelis had given the United States a veto over policy towards attacking Gaza, and Condoleezza Rice, the American Secretary of State, had strongly urged diplomacy in pursuing the release of kidnapped soldier Corporal Gilad Shalit, who was seized on Sunday morning.