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Murdered Soldier Had Just Returned, Unscathed, from Duty in Lebanon

April 10, 1985
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Sgt. Akiva She’ Altiel was buried today in his home town of Rosh Ha’ayin. He had only just returned, unscathed, from a tour of duty in Lebanon. To the thousands who attended the funeral, the tragedy of the 21-year-old soldier’s death had an extra bite of irony. It was as violent as any on the battlefield. But it occurred in Israel, not far from his home.

She’Altiel was the latest victim of a hitch-hike killer, murderers who prey on personnel of the Israel Defense Force. His body, battered and bruised about the head, strangled by a rope left knotted around his throat, his wrists and ankles bound by handcuffs, was found yesterday at the end of a dirt road halfway between the Jewish settlement of Beit Arye and the Arab village of Deir Balut. The site is only seven miles southeast of Petach Tikva.

The dead soldier was first spotted on Sunday, by young women from the Arab village. They mistook him for a local shepherd napping just off the road surrounded by cultivated fields, groves of olive trees and the deep Wadi Shilo lush with spring greenery. But the body was still there the next morning. A farmer reported it to Abdallah Ode, Mayor of Deir Balut. He promptly summoned the police.

All day yesterday and until noon today, security forces ranged over the placid rural area searching for clues. Then they were gone and no trace of the tragedy remained. “We have no idea who is responsible for this gruesome murder,” said Mayor Ode. “There is no way we could have known anything.”

She’Altiel apparently was not murdered near where his body was found. After returning from Lebanon, he was assigned to duty at Beit Naballah, a transportation base just east of Ben Gurion Airport. He left there Saturday for leave at home. A friend drove him to a point on a busy highway where soldiers hitch rides. He was unarmed. Soldiers inside Israel are not required to carry arms when off duty.


When and by whom he was picked up remains a mystery which the police are trying to unravel. They suspect that more than one person was involved in the brutal killing of the healthy young soldier whose excellent record got him assigned to represent his unit at an Independence Day ceremony at the Presidential residence in Jerusalem.

Hitch-hiking is the way Israeli soldiers travel around the country, to and from their home towns or anywhere else. It is a way of life and, for more than a few, a way of death.

Last December 11, the decomposed body of Hadass Kedmi, a 20-year-old woman soldier, was found in a wooded area on Mt. Carmel. She had disappeared 12 days earlier while trying to hitch a ride on the main highway just outside Haifa to her home in Kfar Masaryk on Haifa Bay. She had been raped and brutally murdered.

At about the same time, police were still searching for another soldier, David Manos, who had disappeared weeks earlier near where Kedmi was last seen. Manos is still missing.

“A week ago my brother was in Lebanon,” said Rahavam She’ Altiel after Akiva’s funeral today. “But it was so close to home that he was murdered so brutally,” the young man said. He added bitterly,” I am a Kahane man. The country should be closed to Arabs after six o’clock in the evening.”

He was referring to Rabbi Meir Kahane, leader of the extremist Kach faction who advocates the expulsion of all Arabs from Israel. The vast majority of Israelis abhor Kahane’s patently racist views. But the violent death of a loved one sears the emotions.

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