Body found in Israeli forest believed to be missing American hiker

hiker

A body found in a Jerusalem-area forest is that of missing American Aaron Sofer, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Thursday.

Forensics investigators were working to determine the cause of death, Rosenfeld said.

Sofer, 23, was reported missing Friday by a friend who was hiking with him.

The young man was a Yeshiva student, studying in Israel.

On Monday, Sofer’s father, Moshe Zvi Sofer, joined police and hundreds of volunteers searching the forest outside Jerusalem where his son disappeared.

Moshe Zvi Sofer traveled to Israel with his wife from their home in Lakewood, New Jersey, and the couple offered a 100,000 shekel (about $28,000) reward for whoever found their son, Sofer’s father said in a video posted online.

Sofer’s friend lost contact with him as they walked together. The friend reported the disappearance to authorities, Rosenfeld said earlier this week.

“It is not clear if the disappearance was personal (or a) kidnapping,” Rosenfeld said. “It’s not clear at all.”

Sofer’s disappearance came two months after what Israeli authorities have called the revenge killing of Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khedair, 16.

His body was found in the Jerusalem Forest on July 2, just miles from where Sofer went missing.

Two minors and an adult were indicted in the killing. Prosecutors allege the killing was retaliation for the deaths of three Israeli teens whose bodies were found in the West Bank in June. One of those Israeli teens also had American citizenship.

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