Jerusalem – Missing American Yeshiva Student’s Family Demands IDF Intervention


    Dozens of volunteers of the search and rescue organization, Zaka, seen helping in the search after the Yeshiva student, Aharon Sofer, on August 25, 2014.  Flash90Jerusalem – Three days after being reported missing in the Jerusalem Forest while hiking with a friend, the family of 23-year-old American yeshiva student Aaron Sofer said they are dissatisfied with the progress of the search, and demanded military intervention.

    Despite hundreds of police officers, volunteers and the emergency response and rescue organizations ZAKA and United Hatzalah actively searching for Sofer since Saturday, no clues as to his whereabouts have surfaced as of Monday evening.

    “A physically, mentally and emotionally healthy young man does not go missing for 72 hours,” said Sofer family spokesman, Dov Hirth on Monday. “The family is not satisfied with the way the search and rescue operation has been handled thus far.”

    Moreover, Hirth cited the Muhammad Abu Khdeir murder in the same forest last month, allegedly by Jewish assailants, compounded by heightened tensions with Palestinians, as cause for alarm.

    “It’s well known that a murder took place in that forest, and especially with the ongoing tensions with Palestinians, we feel there should be a military presence and involvement in the search for Aaron,” he said.

    Sofer, who is haredi and from Lakewood, New Jersey, was last seen in the Beit Zayit area of the woods Friday morning, before he and a friend became separated while navigating a steep incline.
    Dozens of volunteers of the search and rescue organization, Zaka, seen helping in the search after the Yeshiva student, Aharon Sofer, on August 25, 2014.  Flash90
    Concerned after not reuniting with him several hours later, the unidentified friend contacted police to file a missing person’s report, which led to the intensive manhunt, as well as Sofer’s parents flying to Israel to aid in the growing search.

    While the manhunt initially generated numerous headlines, Hirth said the family is now concerned that the story has since lost traction.

    “The fact of the matter is we have a young man missing for no apparent reason, and it was on page one of all the newspapers and then the coverage just stopped,” he said. “This needs to continue to be a major story.”

    Police describe Sofer as approximately 5 feet 9 inches tall, slender, with a close-cropped red beard, wearing glasses, a white shirt, yalmuka and black trousers at the time of his disappearance.

    Anyone with information that may assist in locating Sofer has been asked to call 02-5391520, or the Israel Police hotline at 100.

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    1. NOW they want the IDF! HaShem, please give them the IDF and let’s pray they find the young man alive.
      Then the Israeli government should suspend all funding to this Yeshiva until it bans it’s students from the horrendous hadganot against the government and acknowledges that the IDF is a valid choice for Yeshiva students.

    2. The family has no right to “demand” anything. There are literally hundreds of police and security personnel assigned to the search. At this time of daily rocket fired from Gaza, the IDF has its hands full protecting the borders and cannot be diverted to searching for a missing hiker.

      • When its your son missing then u can talk,But if that was my son i would demand the whole army to search for him I would turn the whole world upside down to find my son. BOURCH HASHEM UR NOT MY FATHER Who knows if I were to be missing God Forbid you would not have the right to demand anything to get me back home.

        • ” Who knows if I were to be missing God Forbid you would not have the right to demand anything to get me back home.”

          This same group throws stones and spits at the IDF soldiers and refuse to fight and now they DEMAND help???? You’ve got to be kidding. The yeshiva encourages their students to take hikes in this dangerous forest. Let the yeshiva pay for their own security forces to find this kid. The IDF is too busy protecting Israeli citizens who do not threaten them at every opportunity.

          • “The yeshiva encourages their students to take hikes in this dangerous forest” As far as i know I do not think Rav Tzvi Kaplan Shilta would encourage his students to take hikes in this dangerous forest

      • From your off the mark comment it seems that you are some bitter old bachelor that being tthat you’re not married and have no kids obviously cannot feel the pain and anguish of aother parent and cannot begin to understand what these parents are going through at such a time.

      • you genuis who says the hiker went missing as in lost? Do we have to spell out our scary thoughts. I don’t believe in doi that as it can cause an ain hora. But please use ur imagination and daven. The IDF is suppose to fight terror. Thats the point. Need I say more?

        • I’ve been scratching my head for awhile now wondering why is it such a “shanda” for the #1 post? I believe he meant that since the chareidim don’t have any respect for the IDF, why should they do the searching? Let the chreidim do the search and until there is G-D forbid any reason for them to get involved, they shouldn’t.

    3. The family has EVERY right to demand safety and security for their son. Besides the Israeli police and IDF the American state dept should be HEAVILY involved. This is an American citizen who deserves protection. We all expect that when we travel abroad, and we all deserve that (Maybe not you). Bsuros Tovos B’korov!

      • The State Department doesn’t have the resources to search for every American tourist or student who goes missing in a foreign country. They can facilitate identification of the missing person and serve as a point of contact between the host government and the family of the missing person but that’s about it. Likewise, would the U.S. Army get involved in searching for a missing hiker in the United States in one of the national parks along the border with Mexico? I assure you not. It would be the local and state police and maybe the border patrol but not the military unless the location was a military reservation.


    5. If their son would go missing in Lakewood, New Jersey, would they demand that U.S. Marine Crops deploy troops for his search or would they accept the fact that NJ rescue services, lots of volunteers and perhaps a few local police departments would be assigned for search? IDF does not routinely conduct search efforts unless there is evidence that someone has been kidnapped by terror groups into West Bank. Israel National Police and Hatzolah volunteers are well capable to conduct a search effort of a forest. And even if there is suspected foul-play, INP is professional and experienced enough to handle any investigation. IDF is busy mobilizing reserves and trying to bring calm to border towns as Gaza Operation has proven to be a complex headache thus far.

      It’s time for yeshivos to emphasize to their students not to wonder-off into forest hikes or hitchhike for rides. None of these young guys have boys-scouts training and getting lost in the smallest forest is too easy.

      • You are right. If some kollel yungerleit from BMG got lost while wandering in some local park, the army or marines would not have been called out to search. Sadly, there are too many who believe that the needs of one family trump the national security interests of the entire country. I’d hate to see how many of the rockets fired into EY from Gaza or attacks on Israelis in the West Bank can be tracked directly to one of the thousand terrorists who were released in response to the political extortion of the Shalit family. The U.S. government faces the same issue when private citizens travel to foreign lands and are captured by terrorists and held for ransom.

    6. Are all of you playing devil’s advocate? Ofcourse the US should be involved when their citizen may be in harm’s way. This is not a lost hiker who forgot his compass home. His life may G-d forbid be in serious danger. With Obama at the helm this behaviour seems very appropriate.

      • If all the Chareidi population relied on some draft evader shtegging in a beis medrash for their safety, they would sadly be saying kaddish rather than tehillim. The IDF is what provides for the physical safety of the population, a fact that they conveniently want to forget.

      • “The Torah learning in the boy’s yeshiva will bring him back safely, not the IDF.”

        What does the Torah say about taking risks in a dangerous forest? Why does the yeshiva not prohibit its students from hiking only 2 at a time?


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