Search for the missing person
Search for the missing personHezki Ezra

Meir Peretz, the cousin of the 22-year-old who went missing in the Hevron region of Judea on Thursday after entering the Arab village of Beit Anoun, spoke with reporters outside of the family's home in the southern city of Be'er Sheva.

"The feelings are really hard. It fell on us out of the blue," said Peretz. "I understood that he went out to work, and afterwards he told his mother that he was travelling to the Cave of Machpelah [in Hevron - ed.]. We don't have details other than those of the police and the army."

He added, "I ask of all of the people of Israel, on the eve of the Pesach (Passover - ed.) holiday, we need him back home healthy, whole and free. I ask everyone to increase their prayers."

Massive police and IDF forces are scouring the area between Kiryat Arba outside of Hevron and Beit Anoun, where the missing man was last seen.

Under the orders of IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and Central Command Head Maj. Gen. Roni Noma, the IDF is deploying forces into the area of the village and its surroundings to aid in locating the man.

Making the search efforts more difficult is the fact that the missing man left his cell phone in the front seat of the car that he and a friend had been driving in. 

The friend called police saying they had a punctured tire and the man went to the Arab village to find tools and never came back. However, police and the IDF later said that the car did not have a punctured tire.

Concerns are high that he may have been attacked or abducted by residents of the Arab village, which is known as being hostile and a hotbed of members of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist groups.