Frantic search for soldier under way

‘Sayeret Matkal’ soldier who ran off during training exercise.

Colombian soldiers (photo credit: AP)
Colombian soldiers
(photo credit: AP)
IDF and police forces were searching Thursday for a soldier from the elite General Staff Reconnaissance Unit (Sayeret Matkal) who went missing during a training exercise in the South late Wednesday night. IDF sources said they believed he had bolted for personal, psychological reasons, amid the acute pressures of the training.
The soldier, who has been in the army for a year and is close to completing the training segment for the top unit, had been participating in an exercise together with his squad in the Haruvit Forest in the Lachish Region.
RELATED:IDF soldier killed in training accident15,000 join Schalit family march
The squad had completed a grueling part of the exercise, which included carrying stretchers for a number of kilometers.
When the group stopped to rest, the soldier suddenly ran off into the forest. His squad members initially thought that he had gone to relieve himself, but went looking for him when he failed to return. He had told a fellow soldier during the trek that he was finding it difficult.
The soldier was carrying an electronic transmitter, which apparently stopped working either due to a technical malfunction or because it was disconnected. Officials are concerned that he either fell into a ditch or is hiding and does not want to be found.
Large police and military forces scoured the area with the assistance of helicopters.
Two years ago, Tamir Naboani, a soldier from the same unit, was killed during a solo navigation exercise in the Arava Desert when he fell off a 15-meter cliff.
Solo navigation is part of the training of elite infantry units.
Police asked the public for assistance in locating the soldier and released the following description – 1.75 centimeters tall, a thin frame and a long face. He was last seen wearing a desert uniform and brown shoes. Anyone who has seen him is asked to contact police by dialing 100, or the Kiryat Malachi police station at (08) 860-8444.