sasson nuriel masked 298.
(photo credit: AP)
Hamas released graphic pictures of Sasson Nuriel taken after his abduction but before he was murdered.
The photograph was published after Hamas terrorists claimed responsibility for kidnapping and killing Nuriel, the 51-year-old Jerusalem man who was found dead Monday.
Hamas announced that it had established new "kidnapping units" whose top priority would be capturing Israelis to be held hostage as leverage in prisoner release negotiations with Israel.
Nuriel's kidnappers said in a statement that they had abducted him on Wednesday with the intention of trading him for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
However, after Israel began a series of arrest raids against West Bank terrorists, they decided to kill him, the statement said.
The body of Sasson Nuriel of the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev was found Monday morning in the West Bank village of Beitunya, near Ramallah, five days after he was reported missing.
A court gag order which had been in place at the police's request was partially lifted Monday afternoon after a news blackout on the abduction.
Nuriel's body was found after a four-day joint Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), IDF and police manhunt which resulted in the capture of one of the suspected members of the Hamas cell believed responsible for the killing, Jerusalem police said.
Nuriel, who worked in the industrial area of Mishor Adumim, not far from Ma'aleh Adumim, went missing on the afternoon of September 21. When he failed to come home from work that night, Nuriel's wife, Ronit, reported him missing just before midnight, at which time security officials immediately launched a massive manhunt for him.
Nuriel, a father of three, worked at a candy factory in the industrial zone and had business ties with several Palestinian merchants with whom he had close contacts.
It was not immediately clear Monday whether Nuriel knew any of his captors, with police investigating whether he was betrayed by any of his Palestinian co-workers or associates.
The arrest of one of the suspected members of the cell Sunday morning gave security officials their breakthrough in the case.
The Hamas activist had told investigators that the terrorist cell had planned to keep Nuriel alive and hold him in an apartment in Ramallah where he was supposed to be kept captive, according to the police summation of the case. But a Shin Bet raid on the apartment only turned up green Hamas headbands, the police said.
Jerusalem police said the Hamas suspect later told security officials that Nuriel was in fact dead and described the location of his body, which soldiers unearthed on Monday morning.
A manhunt for additional members of the terror cell continued Monday.
Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra said the murder was a "cowardly" terror-related attack, and that security forces had in recent days arrested several Hamas members near Ramallah on suspicion the terrorist group had kidnapped the businessman.
"This was not an abduction [for ransom] or a military operation. They came across a Jew whose only fault was being a Jew," Ezra said on Army Radio.
Nuriel was buried in Jerusalem on Monday night.
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