Israel identifies body as missing American student

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 29, 2014 at 8:52 am •  Published: August 29, 2014
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JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli forensic investigators on Friday identified a recently found body as that of a U.S. religious student who disappeared while hiking in Jerusalem last week, Israeli police said, adding that he had been buried near Jerusalem.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the body was confirmed early on Friday morning to be that of seminary student Aharon Sofer.

"There is no suspicion of foul play," Samri said by telephone, giving no further details on how he died. Israeli media speculated that he had fallen or died of dehydration. He was buried in the town of Beit Shemesh.

Sofer's body was found Thursday night in the same area where he disappeared last week. The 23-year-old from Lakewood, New Jersey, had been hiking with a friend in a hilly, forested area on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

He was an ultra-Orthodox student at a yeshiva, a Jewish religious school, named for its founder Rabbi Tzvi Kaplan.

Sofer's parents had flown to Israel to assist with the search in the days after their son disappeared.

"They're overwhelmed. At the same time, there is some relief that Aharon has been found," said Meir Lichtenstein, a committeeman in Lakewod Township, who was with Sofer's family in New Jersey on Thursday.

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