Kidnapped and murdered
Hebrew media review

Kidnapped and murdered

In terrorism at home and abroad, IDF soldier abducted and killed by Palestinian co-worker; dozens shot in Nairobi mall attack

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Tomer Hazan (photo credit: Channel 2)
Tomer Hazan (photo credit: Channel 2)

The murder of an IDF soldier by his Palestinian co-worker dominates Sunday’s Hebrew dailies, with a deadly terror attack in Kenya also making headlines.

Soldier murdered in Samaria, the terrorist planned to trade the body in order to free his brother who’s imprisoned in Israel,” reads Maariv‘s long headline, which tells almost the entire story in one sentence.

Featuring a picture of IDF soldiers carrying Tomer Hazan’s body to a military helicopter, the paper writes that security forces are investigating how Palestinian Nidal Amar convinced Hazan to travel with him to the Qalqilya area, where he was murdered and dumped in a pit.

Amar and Hazan worked together at a restaurant in Bat Yam, the Israeli Air Force sergeant’s hometown, but it is still unclear why Hazan traveled with Amar after work hours.

Calling the case “a nightmare scenario” that came true, the paper reports that the IDF and Shin Bet have managed to prevent some 30 kidnappings in 2013 alone — but top security officials fear “the next kidnapping is only a matter of time.”

According to the report, the kidnapping was planned by Amar in order to release his brother, who’s been in an Israeli prison since he was found guilty of aiding a suicide bomber.

Yedioth Ahronoth also focuses on Hazan’s abduction and murder, reporting on the Shin Bet’s race against the clock to find the missing solider and “prevent a second Gilad Shalit” case in which the soldier is held by a terror group for an extended period of time and then freed in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

From the moment it became clear that the missing soldier had most likely been kidnapped, it took the Shin Bet just over five hours to find a lead, and the investigation continued apace until the body was found, the paper says.

After hours of searching, at 4:00 a.m. on Saturday, the police’s special anti-terror unit raided Amar’s house. The arrest was carried out in a joint operation by the special police unit and IDF soldiers, and the body was then removed from a seven-meter (22-foot) deep water hole by the IDF’s search and rescue unit.

Underneath its story about Hazan’s murder, Israel Hayom reports on Saturday’s terror attack in a Nairobi mall, where Muslim terrorists took hostages, killing dozens of people and injuring over 150 others, targeting only non-Muslims.

According to the report, visitors at the Westgate shopping center were caught by surprise at around 11:00 a.m., when terrorists opened fire and started throwing grenades, while rounding up prisoners and — according to one witness — shouting “if you’re Muslim, get up and run.”

Police arrived at the scene and a gun battle ensued between the security forces and the terrorists, who identified themselves via Twitter as the Somali militant group al-Shabab. Among those present at the mall at the time of the attack were several Israelis.

“Everything was quiet and calm until, in the afternoon, the silence was broken,” Yariv Kaidar tells the tabloid. “A group of people on motorcycles arrived in front of the mall and opened fire at the entrance.” He says he lay on the floor and waited until he managed to crawl to a side entrance and run out of the mall.

While some Israelis were caught in the fire, and although the mall is reportedly Israeli-owned, the Israeli Foreign Ministry says the attack “was an internal Kenyan incident, not directed at Israelis.”

Among its featured stories, Haaretz reports on a decision by the IDF to relinquish control of the censorship office, handing it over to the government and bringing to an end the practice of military censorship of Israel’s press. The process, it writes, is planned to be completed within two years.

“After 65 years, the censorship will be removed from the army and operated as a civilian entity,” the article says, adding that the changes in both the public’s way of thinking and the way media operate have brought decision makers in the army to the understanding that the censorship “has no place in the IDF” in today’s reality.

Another consideration in the planned move is looming budget cuts. The IDF, the report says, was looking at reexamining a number of jobs it traditionally used soldiers for, even though the jobs weren’t military per se. Among the ideas being examined were the removing soldiers from the offices of other security organizations and stopping the practice of detailing soldiers to guard non-military defense facilities.

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