JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian lured an Israeli soldier to a village in the West Bank and killed him with the intention of trading the body for his jailed brother, Israel's intelligence agency said Saturday.
The killing further sours the atmosphere for U.S.-led Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, which resumed in July after a nearly five-year break in negotiations. The deaths of several Palestinians in Israeli arrest raids in the West Bank intended to detain militants involved in attacks has also caused tensions, with the Palestinian cancelling one session last month in response.
The 20-yearold soldier was reported missing late Friday and Israeli forces began looking for him, the Shin Bet intelligence agency said. The search led the troops to Nidal Amar, a 42-year-old Palestinian from Beit Amin a village near the city of Qalqiliya in the northern West Bank.
Amar was arrested and confessed to killing the soldier, whom he knew because they work at the same restaurant in the coastal city of Bat Yam in central Israel, the agency said. The military identified the slain soldier as 20-year-old Sgt. Tomer Hazan from Bat Yam.
According to Shin Bet, the Palestinian recounted how he had picked up Hazan in a taxi on Friday after convincing him to accept a ride. He took the Israeli to an open field, killed him and hid his body in a well, the agency said.
Israeli forces raided Amar's home early Saturday and interrogated Amar and his brother.
Shin Bet said Amar had confessed to intending to trade Hazan's body for another brother, in an Israeli jail since 2003 for his role in several terror attacks. He then showed the Israeli forces where the body was hidden.
The agency did now say how Amar convinced the soldier to join him on the ride Friday.
A senior military official said initial investigations suggested that Palestinian individuals planned the attack on their own, not on the orders of any militant groups. He said the solider had a non-combat position in the air force and had an arrangement allowing him to hold a job outside the military — at the restaurant, where he knew the Palestinian.
He said the soldier was killed with a "cold weapon" — meaning, not a firearm — but would not disclose the exact weapon used. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
It is not the first case of Palestinians abducting Israeli soldiers, sometimes killing them afterward. The military has a long standing campaign warning soldiers not to accept rides from strangers.
In 2001 a Palestinian woman lured an Israeli teenage boy over the Internet to the West Bank where he was murdered by waiting Palestinian militants.
The woman, Amna Muna, was released along with over a thousand other Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a single Israeli soldier held captive in Gaza by Hamas-allied militants in 2011.
The latest deaths only increase the mistrust between the two sides as they hold negotiations after a hiatus of nearly five years. Talks collapsed in 2008, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spent months early this year persuading the sides to get back talks on track again.
The Palestinians had initially refused and demanded an end to Israeli settlement building in areas they demand for a future state as a precondition for resuming talks. Israel insisted that settlements along with all other core issues like security arrangements should be resolved in talks.
Kerry managed to get the Palestinians to drop their demand in exchange for Israel's release of long-time Palestinian prisoners involved in killing Israeli civilians and soldiers.