Volunteer searchers have found the body of Aharon Sofer, the 23-year-old yeshiva student from Lakewood, N.J., who disappeared last Friday while hiking through the West Bank with a friend, according to WABC television.

WABC quoted Israeli Police spokesman Micki Rosenfeld as saying that Mr. Sofer’s body was discovered in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem neighborhood, near the Jerusalem Forest, where Mr. Sofer was last seen.

Rosenfeld did not announce a suspected cause of death. The vosizneias.com website, which serves the haredi community, quoted Eli Beer, founder of the United Hatzolah organization, as saying, “one of our volunteers found him near a tree … Other volunteers came and they saw he wasn’t alive, hadn’t been alive for a while.”

“Initial reports say that Sofer’s body shows no signs of violence,” the website reported.

Mr. Sofer’s parents, who had flown to Israel to join in a massive search through the hilly area, had offered a $28,000 reward for information leading to his return, and had posted a video on social media begging for his release.
Police and the United Hatzolah emergency response organization coordinated the search.

Mr. Sofer’s disappearance came a month after Palestinian terrorists on the West Bank kidnapped and murdered three hitchhiking teenage yeshiva students, and a Palestinian teen was kidnapped and killed in the Jerusalem Forest in an apparent act of revenge by Jewish extremists.

editor@jewishweek.org