Security forces are on high alert in Judea and Samaria due to warnings that terrorist groups hope to kidnap Jews. Terrorists are particularly interested in kidnapping Jews at the current time, in order to bargain for an end to IDF counterterrorism operations in Gaza.
At the beginning of the week the IDF sent a reminder to Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria to follow the cautionary guidelines set by the IDF. Among the guidelines is a warning to avoid hitchhiking with strangers. In addition, Jews in Judea and Samaria should not wait at hitchhiking posts outside Jewish towns, particularly not after dark, the guidelines say.
Terrorists last succeeded in kidnapping a Jew in the area in 2006, when Eliyahu Asheri was taken captive and later murdered. Asheri was picked up by a group of Arab men disguised as Jews who offered him a ride.
Asheri's kidnappers murdered him shortly after the abduction and then attempted to bargain for his release after his death, using a copy of his identity card as evidence of the kidnapping. The attempt to bargain failed, and security forces quickly found Asheri's body and located the kidnappers as well.
Kidnapping Attempt Reported near Beit El
A resident of Beit El said he witnessed a kidnapping attempt on Thursday night. While driving near Givat Assaf, close to Beit El, he saw Palestinian Authority Arabs drive up to a group of Israeli hitchhikers and offer them a ride.
The witness said the hitchhikers were about to enter the car when he pulled over and warned them that the car was driven by PA Arabs. As he stepped out of the car he took his gun in case the Arabs attacked, he explains. When the Arabs saw him and realized the hitchhikers were not going to get into the car, they quickly drove away.
While Jews in Judea and Samaria have been warned not to hitchhike, many say they have no other means of transportation. Buses to Jewish towns in the area arrive infrequently, if at all, and many residents do not own cars.