Body found in Jerusalem Forest reportedly confirmed that of missing N.J. yeshiva student

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel Police reportedly confirmed that a dead body found in Ein Kerem near the Jerusalem Forest is that of  Aaron Sofer, a yeshiva student from New Jersey who went missing in the area a week ago.

The body was found in a shallow ditch a the side of the road in the neighborhood, and that his hat and glasses were found nearby, WABC in Lakewood, N.J. reported, citing Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

The body reportedly has decomposed, making identifying the cause of death difficult.

The Hebrew-language haredi Orthodox news website Behadrey Haredim reported the cause of death as dehydration.

Hatzolah announced via Twitter late Thursday afternoon that the body of Sofer, 23, was found in the Jerusalem forest and that the search had been called off.

Israeli Police said that a body has been found, but did not say more. The body was sent to the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute for positive identification.

Sofer was last seen at noon Friday when he and a friend began climbing down a steep incline on a hiking trail. The friend called police several hours later and reported Sofer missing.

Prayer vigils have been held in Lakewood since Sofer’s disappearance.

Sofer’s parents, who traveled to Israel after Sofer went missing, released a video Tuesday on social media begging for information leading to his return and offering the reward of 100,000 shekels, or about $28,000.

In June, a Palestinian teen was abducted and then taken to the Jerusalem Forest, where he was knocked out and burned to death. The murder is being treated as a revenge attack for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens.

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