IDF soldier murdered by Palestinian in West Bank

Kalkilya resident lures Tomer Hazan, with whom he worked at Bat Yam restaurant, to murder scene with motive to secure release of brother.

Tomer Hazan (photo credit: Courtesy Hazan family)
Tomer Hazan
(photo credit: Courtesy Hazan family)
A Palestinian man lured a 20-year-old soldier to the West Bank and murdered him on Friday, before hiding the body in a well, security forces announced on Saturday.
The murder victim has been identified as Sgt. Tomer Hazan, of Bat Yam. He served in the Israel Air Force. His funeral will take place Sunday afternoon at the Holon military cemetery.
The terror suspect, who is in custody, told security forces he led the victim, with whom he worked together in a restaurant in Bat Yam, to the West Bank, where he committed the murder.
He then hoped to secure the release of his brother – an incarcerated terrorist arrested in 2003 for being part of a suicide bombing attack cell – by offering to return the soldier.
Security forces believe the suspect planned to deceive Israel by not notifying them that he had killed the soldier before reaching an agreement to release his brother.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) received a report on Friday evening about the disappearance of a soldier who had failed to contact his family since the morning. The missing man’s family informed authorities of his disappearance.
The report prompted the Shin Bet to set up a special operations room together with the IDF and Israel Police.
As the investigation proceeded, special forces from the IDF’s Duvdevan undercover unit and the police’s Counter-Terrorism Unit began searches.
During the investigation it emerged that a Palestinian resident of the village of Beit Amin, in the Kalkilya region, named as 42-year-old Nedal Amar, worked with the soldier at a Bat Yam restaurant.
The two took a taxi on Friday to the Samaria settlement of Sha’arei Tikva, near Amar’s village, the Shin Bet said.
Acting on the information, security forces raided Amar’s home in Beit Amin and arrested him and another brother.
During questioning, Amar confessed to persuading the soldier to join him for a ride to his residence, the Shin Bet said. The manner in which the suspect persuaded the victim to accompany him remains unknown.
After leading the soldier to an open area near the Palestinian village of Saniria, Amar killed the soldier by using a blunt weapon, and hid the body in a well, a senior army source said.
“During his interrogation, Amar said his motive for the murder was to ‘trade’ the soldier’s body for the release of his brother, Nur al-Din Amar, a [Fatah] Tanzim member in prison since 2003,” the Shin Bet said.
Amar then led security forces to the hiding spot where he had placed the body. Security forces said additional arrests are expected, and that the investigation is still ongoing.
Amar had been working in Israel illegally. He applied to enter Israel under the family reunification law, but was rejected.
The army source added that initial indications are that the suspect worked alone, and was not part of a larger terrorist organization.
Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich sent her condolences to Hazan’s family.
“This is a shocking act, that took advantage of permission to enter Israel and Hazan’s trust in the murderer,” she said.
Yacimovich called for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not to give in to terrorism and to continue peace talks with the Palestinians.
Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel called to stop all planned prisoner releases.
According to Ariel, “prisoner releases do not bring peace closer. They bring bloodshed like we saw today.”
“The absurd dance of releasing terrorists continues to harm the State of Israel’s security, since the terrorists themselves learned that we don’t have red lines,” Ariel said.
According to Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, “20 years after the Oslo Accords [were signed], our partner hasn’t changed.
“The murder meant to free a Fatah murderer and release a soldier of [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] shows once again who our partner is,” Bennett said. “We do not make peace with terrorists who throw soldiers into pits; we fight them without mercy.”
The murder comes after several failed attempts by terrorist organizations to kidnap and kill soldiers, to secure the release of Palestinian security prisoners.
“We see this is as part of a flow of attempts to carry out such acts,” the army source said. He called on Israelis to exercise caution, and not make themselves vulnerable to “elements who can turn out to be hostile.”
“From previous cases, they [the terrorists] know how hard it is to keep kidnapped soldiers alive, due to our intelligence grasp of the area. We see from the past that they will tend to murder kidnapped soldiers and then negotiate [with Israel],” the source said.
An additional security source told The Jerusalem Post that there have been more than 30 attempts to kidnap soldiers this year.
“We’re always on alert for this threat. There’s been a media campaign by the IDF to warn soldiers of the dangers, and during briefings before home leave, soldiers are warned about the risks. The threat is well known, and it’s at our doorstep,” the source added.
In March, a Palestinian resident of the West Bank appeared before an Israeli military court and was charged with attempting to set up a terrorist cell, after being recruited for the mission by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The suspect allegedly worked under the instruction of Hamas’s Gaza military wing, Izzadin Kassam, and plotted to fire rockets and kidnap and kill a soldier.