U.S. student's body found beside forest in Jerusalem

| Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, 7:57 p.m.

JERUSALEM — Israeli police said on Thursday that they had found the body of a 23-year-old American student who vanished last week near a forest in Jerusalem and that they did not suspect a criminal motive.

Aaron Sofer, a Jewish seminary student from Lakewood, N.J., disappeared on Aug. 22 while walking in woods not far from the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. His body was found earlier on Thursday.

“Following a forensic examination, the body ... was identified as that of missing person Aaron Sofer. Tests showed that no criminal act was committed and the body will be transferred to the family in the coming hours,” a police spokeswoman said.

No details on the condition of the body or possible clues surrounding the circumstances of the death were revealed.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said earlier that Sofer had been hiking with a friend, making their way up a hill and had lost contact with each other.

In June, three Israeli seminary students, all teenagers, were kidnapped while hitchhiking in the occupied West Bank, about 20 miles south of Jerusalem, and later found dead.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas later acknowledged responsibility for the killings, which helped precipitate seven weeks of war between terrorists in Gaza and Israel that ended with an open-ended cease-fire on Tuesday.

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