Niv Asraf, the IDF soldier who faked his own kidnapping.
(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
The 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.