A Palestinian kidnapped and murdered an Israeli soldier hoping to exchange the body for his brother, jailed in the Jewish state since 2003, officials said on Saturday.
An army spokesman said the soldier “was kidnapped and killed by a Palestinian near Qalqiliya yesterday (Friday) and his body was found” on Saturday morning.
The army identified the soldier as Tomer Hazan, 20.
An AFP correspondent said his body was evacuated by helicopter on Saturday afternoon, following an overnight search.
Hazan was in the army but on a weekend pass and knew the Palestinian, having worked with him at a restaurant south of Tel Aviv, the Shin Bet security agency said.
Shin Bet said it arrested the Palestinian suspect, 42-year-old Nidal Amer, at his family home in Beit Amin south of Qalqiliya, and that he had confessed to killing the soldier.
The suspect said he had abducted and killed him in the hope that he could “trade the body in exchange for the release” of one of his brothers who has been jailed by Israel since 2003 in connection with several attacks, Shin Bet said in a statement.
“An investigation is under way and is expected to lead to the arrest of other individuals who took part in the incident,” Shin Bet said, adding that another of Amer’s brothers was also arrested on Saturday.
“This was a horrible terrorist attack by one assassin trying to free another,” said military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner in a statement.
According to Shin Bet the soldier agreed to share a taxi on Friday with Amer.
“Nidal confessed that he took the soldier to a deserted area… then killed him and hid his body in a well,” Shin Bet said.
It did not say how Amer killed the soldier or how he persuaded him to accompany him to the West Bank.
A hunt was launched for the soldier after he failed to contact his family.
Military service is compulsory in Israel, with men serving three years and women two.