Niv Asraf, the IDF soldier who faked his own kidnapping.
(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
After a state appeal to lengthen the sentences of Niv Asraf and Eran Nagauker, who orchestrated their own kidnapping in 2015, the Jerusalem District Court sentenced Asraf to nine months in prison and Nagauker to six months, Hadashot News reported Wednesday.
"The court expressed disgust with the actions of the defendants who were willing to endanger the lives of policemen and soldiers," said attorney Efrat Pilser of the Jerusalem District Attorney's Office, praising the court's decision.
"The decision made today sends a message that we should not be lenient with anyone who cynically uses the security forces," Pilser added, saying that "this was a planned act of delivering false information, the consequences of which could have led to a flare-up in the entire region."
In a drama that gripped the nation, the fake kidnappings launched an extensive search for Asraf and Nagauker in the West Bank by Israel defense forces. Asraf was initially sentenced to six months of community service and his partner-in-crime, Nagauker, was sentenced to three months in the same service program.
"The District Court erred when it accepted the state's appeal, and this is an extraordinary, exceptional punishment, which is disproportionate to the events that have taken place," said Asraf's attorney, Moti Yosef, of the district court decision.
"This is a severe punishment that does not conform to the standards for similar offenses," Nagaoker's attorney, Idan Gamlieli, added. "We will study the decision and consider our further steps. It is important to note that Nagauker had no criminal intent to harm anyone or to disrupt the activity of the security forces."
The initial indictment, filed in 2015 by the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office, accuses Asraf and Nagauker of plotting to fake Asraf’s disappearance, because he had recently broken up with his girlfriend and believed that news of his kidnapping would cause her to worry about him.
The indictment says the two drove toward Kiryat Arba near Hebron and selected a hiding place, where Asraf planned to wait during the search for him. He left his cellphone in his car to throw off attempts to track his whereabouts. Nagauker – then on active duty in the Israel Air Force - took a tire off the car and replaced it with a spare, to create a cover story that they had gotten a flat tire, and that Asraf had then walked to a nearby Palestinian village to get help.Nagauker then called the police emergency line, and gave a false police report
that his friend had gone missing, according to the indictment.
After an exhaustive search, Asraf was discovered at 12:30 a.m. on a Friday morning in a nearby dry creek bed, with a sleeping bag and canned goods.
The indictment describes how Nagauker’s call caused the army and police to deploy thousands of soldiers and police officers, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) officers and search and rescue aircraft to find his friend.
They also set up a checkpoint and began stopping and searching Palestinian motorists, a procedure that the indictment says disrupted the lives of many Palestinians.
During the searches, troops were attacked with rocks on a number of occasions, the indictment says.
The indictment states that while he was hiding, Asraf could hear the emergency vehicles searching for him, but did not inform them that he was safe and sound.
Hours after the search began, Nagauker changed his story and the ruse began to unravel. Later that night, Asraf was found and both were arrested.
Asraf, who denied the story as told by Nagauker, told police he had a gambling debt to underworld types that grew with interest as he was unable to pay, and that he panicked and decided to disappear for a few days.Ben Hartman and Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.