Asheri shot in head Sunday immediately after abduction

Maj.-Gen. Naveh: Man arrested Wednesday, Abu Rajil, was personally involved in the kidnapping; funeral to take place at 2:30 p.m. in J'lem.

asheri 298 ap (photo credit: AP)
asheri 298 ap
(photo credit: AP)
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 has been notified. His funeral was scheduled to take place at 2:30 p.m. in Jerusalem, with the funeral procession to pass from Beit Sanhedria to the Mount of Olives in the city. OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh revealed Thursday morning that the youth had been shot in the head immediately after the kidnapping on Sunday. [For a Jerusalem Online video of events click here] 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.
Naveh told Army Radio that the cell that abducted Asheri was instructed and paid by sources in Gaza for the kidnapping. On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Hamas-affiliated PRC told Al-Jazeera that Asheri would be "butchered in front of TV cameras" if the IDF operation in Gaza did not stop. "Our patience is running out," he said. "I am announcing for the first time that the kidnapped Zionist Israel is searching for is the same settler who is being held by us. He is aged 18-1⁄2... and is a soldier in a pre-military academy," said the spokesman, who identified himself as Abu Abir. Asheri's absence was not immediately reported. His disappearance was only noted after he failed to appear for a hike planned by the pre-military academy of Neveh Tsuf, where he had been studying. Rabbi Haim Druckman, Asheri's grandfather, said he first heard of his disappearance Tuesday. "They saw in the morning that he hadn't arrived, so they started worrying," Druckman said. "The situation was not immediately clear, so security forces requested that no one be notified." Druckman described Asheri as "a great kid, very responsible, very serious and sensitive... He was at his greatest, blossoming and very happy." 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. Moshe Goldsmith, the community's secretary, said the family had been briefed by OC Samaria Col. Yuval Bazak, who told them that there were clear signs that Asheri had been kidnapped but that authorities were still unsure of the exact details. 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. AP contributed to this report.