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(photo credit: AP)
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The IDF confirmed early Thursday a report the Popular Resistance Committees issued from Gaza that it had executed Eliyahu Asheri, 18, of Itamar, who was kidnapped earlier this week in the West Bank. Asheri's family had been notified.
His funeral took place at 2:30 p.m. in Jerusalem. The funeral procession passed from Beit Sanhedria to the Mount of Olives cemetery.
Meanwhile, the Zohar Rabbinical Organization published a religious decree on Thursday stating that hitchhiking with an unknown driver is a sin.
OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh revealed on Thursday morning that the youth had been shot in the head immediately after the kidnapping on Sunday.
On Wednesday, elite police and IDF forces arrested Popular Resistance Committees operative Osam Abu Rajil, who was suspected to have been involved in the kidnapping. Abu Rajil led the forces to a mountainside north of Ramallah, where Asheri's body was found buried, Army Radio reported.
Naveh confirmed Thursday that Abu Rajil was personally involved in the kidnapping.
Last Sunday, Naveh said, Asheri was visiting friends in Gush Etzion when he hitched a ride back to the Ofra Junction. There, the IDF officer said, Asheri was picked up by a Palestinian Resistance Committees (PRC) cell and smuggled into Ramallah, taken to a garbage dump and shot in the head at point blank range.
The kidnappers, Naveh said during a press conference at Central Command headquarters in Jerusalem, received tens of thousands of dollars and directions from PRC officials in the Gaza Strip. Asheri's kidnapping, he added, was planned by the cell carefully in advance and was implemented flawlessly. The cell, he said, had from the beginning of the abduction planned to murder Asheri and to negotiate the return of his body.
According to Naveh, the threat of abduction was real and kidnappings were currently the preferred type of attack by Palestinian terror groups. "It involves minimum expense and they know that if they kidnap a soldier, they are striking a strategic blow to Israel," he explained.
Naveh said that the IDF planned to begin funding extra bus lines along West Bank roads to facilitate the needs of settlers and soldiers and hopefully prevent them from hitching rides and risking their lives. The IDF, he added, was also looking into the possibility of passing a new military order that would allow authorities to file a complaint against citizens who hitch rides in the West Bank
Rabbi Avi Ronsky, head of Itamar's yeshiva, said Asheri was a very introverted teenager, who had a tendency to go off on his own. For that reason, the family was not immediately suspicious of his disappearance, he said.
Eliahu is the eldest of five children, and his parents have been living in Itamar since 1991. His father immigrated from Melbourne, Australia.
An Australian diplomat based in Ramallah said the Australian embassy had approached the family, offered assistance and had been in contact with the Palestinian Authority, but had no details about Asheri, who does not hold Australian citizenship.