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October 24, 2014 / 30 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem forest’

Missing Yeshiva Student’s Parents Plead for Public’s Help in Search

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

“I’m having a hard time now, but I will try to speak,” Chulda Sofer, Aharon’s mother, began in a trembling voice, in a heartbreaking video plea to the public for help in finding her son.

Aharon Sofer, 23, went missing on Friday, Aug. 22, while hiking with a friend in the Jerusalem Forest. A student who is learning in Jerusalem at Reb Tzvi Kaplan’s Yeshiva, he is one of 10 children, the son of a rabbi and a mother who works in a school office. He disappeared after taking a diverging path while heading down a steep incline in the forest while hiking with his friend last Friday. When he didn’t re-appear by 6 pm in time to prepare for Sabbath, Sofer’s friend knew something was wrong.

Few are willing to voice the fear that Sofer was kidnapped by Arab terrorists. Fewer dare to even think the unthinkable: as with three Israeli teens who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists on June 12, the awful silence that has followed this yeshiva student’s disappearance may not mean good news. There have been terrorist murders in the Jerusalem Forest before. An Arab teen was kidnapped and killed there in a revenge attack for the Hamas murders of the three Israeli teens. A Christian woman, Kristine Luken, was attacked with her friend by a Palestinian Arab terrorist in 2010 in the same forest. Her friend managed to escape, but Luken was murdered.

Seen in the video clutching a poster bearing a photo of her son with the word MISSING printed in heavy black letters in Hebrew and English, Chulda Sofer is clearly beside herself. She tearfully beseeches, “Please, please, please, I beg of you, beg you, please, if anyone sees, anything about Aharon, please call the police immediately.”

The video at that point is apparently spliced, probably for brevity; Rabbi Moshe Sofer, the young man’s father, is then seen reading his own statement in a calm, firm voice.

“Our son Aharon was taking a walk in the Ya’ar Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Forest) on Friday, August 22, and was last seen at 12 pm in the area of Yad Vashem.

“The police are working tirelessly on all fronts and all options are being strongly investigated. We would like to thank the American Consulate, the Office of the Consul-General and the FBI and the Israeli Police and ZAKA for all their efforts in trying to find our dear son Aharon.

“There is a reward of NIS 100,000 for any finder of Aharon,” he concludes, faltering slightly on the final sentence.

One of Aharon’s cousins from the United States tried to organize a ‘group think’ effort to brainstorm ways to help via Facebook.

“Below is a list of phone numbers you can call in order to get updates on my cousin’s situation, provide ideas and different ways of helping, and also to get a list of tehillim (psalms) to say as we are all trying to finish the whole sefer tehillim (Book of Psalms) over and over and over again,” he wrote. “Please spread the word, pass this on and make those calls. thank you!!!!”

A yeshiva student who joined the thousands of searchers in the Jerusalem Forest, A*, said he has spent the past three days combing the hills for his friend. “I have been up since 5 am,” he said, “and we haven’t found anything. Not a single thing. Those earlier rumors of things that were found were false reports, I think. But in a way, that’s good, right? Because it means he might still be alive.” The student added that his friend has been in Jerusalem since early last autumn, and is no novice to the area.

Yeshiva Student Missing in Jerusalem Forest Since Friday

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Israel Police are asking the public to help search for Aaron Sofer, 23, a yeshiva student who went missing around midday last Friday in the Beit Zayit area of the Jerusalem Forest.

Sofer is described as being 5’9″ (1.75 meters) tall, with a short red beard. He wears glasses, a white shirt, black slacks and a black yarmulka. Sofer is a permanent resident of Lakewood, New Jersey.

“Police units are still carrying out an intensive search for [him] in the Jerusalem Forest area where he disappeared,” Israel Police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told JewishPress.com on Sunday evening. “The background [is still] not clear.”

Apparently Sofer disappeared while hiking in the woods with a friend on Friday; the two walked down a steep slope, taking a diverging path, and subsequently he did not reappear as expected.

The second hiker called police to report Sofer missing within six hours — when it became clear that Sofer had not arrived back at yeshiva in time to prepare for Shabbat, at 6 pm.

Police search and rescue units, along with a K-9 unit, were deployed, along with helicopters for an aerial search, and continue to scan from the skies and on the ground below.

The ZAKA emergency response and rescue organization, along with the Israel Hatzolah first responder emergency medical organization were both called by police overnight on Shabbat to assist in the search.

Three Jerusalem neighborhoods are located along the edges of the forest: Bayit V’Gan, Hadassah and Ein Kerem. All three are located above and overlook the forested areas.

Dozens of volunteers went out in force searching for the student after the Sabbath ended on Saturday night, when rabbis and other community leaders announced he was missing.

Thus far, no trace has been found.

Anyone with information that might lead to knowledge of the student’s whereabouts is asked to please call 02-539-1520 or the Israel Police hotline at “100.”

The public is asked to pray for the safe return of Aharon ben Chulda.

Abbas Demands Netanyahu Condemn Arab Boy’s Murder (After Bibi Already Condemned It)

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas took the first opportunity possible Wednesday to call on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to “condemn the kidnapping and murder [of an Arab youth]… as we condemned those of the three Israelis.”

Except that Mahmoud Abbas took several days to get around to his condemnation, whereas Prime Minister Netanyahu had already condemned the murder of young Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir, 17, by the time Abbas was demanding that he do so.

The entire Israeli leadership, in fact, rushed to unequivocally condemn the murder, from one end of the political spectrum to the other. That, despite the fact there were quiet indications by sources that requested anonymity the killing might be connected to a blood feud, a clan war or an “honor killing.”

Nor is Abbas doing anything on his own to discourage the violence of Jerusalem Arabs, who are rioting in every neighborhood in which they live.

The young Arab teen is believed to have been kidnapped from the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina overnight Tuesday. His parents called police to report him missing at about 4:00 a.m. and his body was allegedly found in the Jerusalem forest about an hour later, at 5:00 a.m., burnt and showing other signs of violence.

The efforts by Abbas to compare the murder to the kidnapping and subsequent murder by Hamas terrorists of three Israeli teens from Gush Etzion on June 12 was obvious, as was his attempt to place the blame for the killing at the doorstep of Israeli Jews, as a “revenge attack.”

Equally clear was his determination to seek a way to halt the IDF’s continued Operation Brother’s Keeper as soldiers proceed with the intensified search for the murderers of the boys, whose bodies were laid to rest Tuesday in the Modi’in cemetery.

Abbas blamed Israel for the death of the young Arab teen, the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency reported. He said in his statement to the WAFA news service that Israel should “take real measures” to “stop all revenge attacks.”

But Netanyahu had already referred to the killing as a “despicable murder” in public statements at the start of the day. The prime minister also spoke with Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovich, urging him to get police moving to track down Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir’s killers.

The family of Naftali Frenkel, one of the murdered Israeli teens, meanwhile, told reporters Wednesday morning there was no difference between Arab and Jewish blood.

“If the Arab youth was murdered for nationalistic reasons then this is a horrible and horrendous thing. There is no difference between [Arab] blood and [Jewish] blood,” said Yishai Frenkel, uncle of the young terrror victim. “Murder is murder. There is no forgiveness and no justification for any form of murder,” he said.

However, there are many issues that are not yet clear.

It is still not known, for instance, whether in fact the two incidents are related, according to police officials. The prime minister called on security agencies to work swiftly to track down the perpetrators and identify their motives — but Abbas has obviously ignored his words.

Netanyahu also called on all sides not to take the law into their own hands, warning that Israel is “a nation of laws and everyone must act according to the law.”

Moreover, reports have surfaced of an Arab teen who was allegedly forced into a car in Shuafat late Tuesday night. It is not yet clear who was behind the kidnapping, nor whether the teen mentioned in the report is Muhammad, or someone else.

Nor has the body that was found in the Jerusalem forest definitely been identified as that of Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir. It may belong to someone else. All these issues have yet to be clarified.

Abu Ghosh Resident Charged with Arson

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

A resident of the Israeli Arab village of Abu Ghosh has been indicted on charges of starting a forest fire in the area west of Jerusalem.

Abu Ghosh, friendly to Israelis for decades, is comprised mostly of Christian Arabs and is extremely popular both locally and abroad for its world-famous hummus.

Apparently one of its residents is not nearly as friendly to Israel, however. An indictment was filed in Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday against 19 year old Sa’id Abd al-Rahman, charging him with arson.

Rahman was accused of igniting a fire, using a lighter, last Sunday at a grove on HaTamar Street. He allegedly lit the blaze after a number of other fires were already burning in the area, according to the indictment.

Firefighters succeeded in extinguishing the blaze within 15 minutes – though not before half a dunam (1/8 acre) of forested land had already been destroyed.

The crime may indicate that Rahman intended to participate in an act of arson terror, a relatively new recent type of terrorism being perpetrated against Israeli by Palestinian Authority and Israeli Arabs especially in forested areas.

Wildfire Rages Out of Control Near Abu Ghosh

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

A wildfire is reportedly raging out of control near the Christian Arab town of Abu Ghosh, near the western face of the Jerusalem hills. The fire broke out Tuesday afternoon, but quickly blazed out of control due to the high winds in the area.

By mid-afternoon, at least a dozen fire trucks had reached the area to fight the flames, along with six firefighting aircraft.

Abu Ghosh is located along Route 1, on the road between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, close to the Jewish hareidi religious community of Telz Stone, also known as ‘Kiryat Ye’arim,’ where it is believed that the Ark of the Covenant was placed. Abu Ghosh is a small village, friendly to Jews and nationally famous for its secret, special family recipes for hummus. Kosher versions of ‘Abu Ghosh’ hummus are sold by a number of Israeli appetizing manufacturers and stocked in supermarkets across the country.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/wildfire-rages-out-of-control-near-abu-ghosh/2014/06/17/

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