Terrorism Suspected In Kidnap, Murder of Israeli Soldier

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:13 PM EDT

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - An Israeli soldier, missing for a week, was found dead in northern Israel on Monday in a case that police describe as a definite act of terrorism.

Cpl. Oleg Shaikhet, 20, of Upper Nazareth went missing last Monday on the way from his army base to his home in a Jewish satellite community of Nazareth, which is Israel's largest Arab city.

Hundreds of volunteers searched for him in that the area for the last few days.

On Monday afternoon, two volunteer trackers found Shaikhet's body buried in an olive grove between the Israeli Arab villages of Mashad and Cana, said police spokesman Gil Kleiman.

"According to the evidence, there is no doubt it was a terrorist killing," Kleiman said.

"Evidence found during the last couple of days indicated that Oleg acted with great initiative," he said.

Kleiman declined to give further details, but according to Israeli television reports, Shaikhet dropped some of his things along the way, apparently to help those who would come looking for him.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom described the kidnap and murder of Shaikhet as an "extremely serious and terrible case." He said that Israel would make every effort to bring those responsible for the murder to justice.

No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and murder.

Due to a court gag order, few details have been released for publication.

Northern District Police Commander Maj-Gen. Ya'akov Borovsky said that Israel does not "yet know the identity of the murderers, and therefore the question of whether they were Israeli Arabs or Palestinians remains open."

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said that he didn't want to draw any conclusions "until we have studied all evidence."

Ten days ago, the Israeli military police launched a campaign to try to prevent Israeli soldiers from being kidnapped, warning soldiers of disciplinary action if they were caught hitchhiking.

Soldiers stationed at out-of-the-way bases often hitchhike to avoid long bus rides, something that cuts into their short leaves.

Warnings of possible terror attacks have dropped markedly in the last few weeks since Palestinian terrorist groups made an agreement with the PA for a temporary halt to terror attacks.

Nevertheless, intelligence warnings indicated that Palestinian terrorists intended to abduct Israelis, probably to use them as bargaining chips for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Israeli commandos successfully freed an Israeli taxi driver about two weeks ago, after he was nabbed by Palestinians and taken to Ramallah.