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Mofaz: Missing soldier was killed in cold blood (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Uri Ash and David Ratner, Haaretz Correspondents and Haaretz Service 07/28/03 22:42 (GMT+3) Source: http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/323034.html
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The body of IDF soldier, Corporal Oleg Shaichat, who has been missing for a week, was found on Monday buried in an olive grove between the Arab villages of Kafr Kana and Mashad, northeast of Nazareth in the north of Israel, police announced.
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According to the initial police investigation, Shaichat, 20, was abducted at the Beit Rimon Junction and was then taken to a nearby field where he was murdered.
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Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told an award ceremony for Army Radio commanders in Tel Aviv that Shaichat was killed "in killed blood" by his assailants shortly after he was kidnapped.
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On Monday night, the IDF reissued its ban on Israeli citizens entering Palestinian-administered areas in the West Bank. The renewed ban follows increased warnings that Palestinian militants plan to kidnap Israelis. The army has also recommended that Israelis refrain from entering Area B (areas under Israeli security authority and Palestinian civilian administration) without first coordinating with the IDF.
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Northern District Police Commander Major General Yaakov Borovsky said Monday that the body was found by volunteers searching the area. Trackers reportedly followed bloody tracks.
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Shaichat´s body was uncovered by a 67-year-old Bedouin, Salah al-Hayab, who had served in the IDF as a tracker. "They found a soldier´s belongings not far from here and I felt that he was in this area," al-Hayab told Haaretz. "I took two volunteers, a driver and army officer, and we decided to scour this area. Suddenly one of the volunteers, who was 20 or 30 meters in front of me, shouted out that ´there´s a mound on the ground´. I went up and found that there were weeds on the mound to cover it up. I immediately told the driver to start digging and understood that he [Shaichat] was there."
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Borovsky said searches concentrated on that specific area after Shaichat´s belongings, which he apparently left behind on purpose, were found nearby.
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Borovsky said that he could not give many details on the condition of the body and any other details on the case due to a court-imposed gag order. Israel Radio reported that judging from the condition of the body, Shaichat had fought back. His gun was not uncovered and is believed to have been stolen by his assailants.
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"The motive for the murder was nationalistic. We do not yet know the identity of the murderers, and therefore the question of whether they were Israeli Arabs or Palestinians remains open," Borovsky said.
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Mofaz, commenting on Shaichat´s death, said Monday that ´I don´t want to reach any conclusions until we have studied all evidence.´
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Hundreds of police, soldiers and volunteers had scoured the north of the country in the last week looking for the missing soldier.
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A team of IDF representatives, an ambulance and a Russian-Hebrew translator arrived at the Shaichat family home in Upper Nazareth´s Har Yona neighborhood around 1 P.M. Monday afternoon to inform the family of the bad news.
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When Shaichat´s mother, Olga, saw the contingent, she commented, "I see you haven´t come to give me good news." When an IDF officer read the official statement, Olga Shaichat collapsed, screaming on the floor, shouting "my son, he never saw anything in his life." The family then asked the media to leave them alone with their grief.
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A few hours later, Oleg´s brother, Adam, came down to talk to the waiting media, and said, "I want to thank the whole country, the search teams, the civilians, everyone who helped."
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In response to news of the soldier´s murder, the Hadash party condemned the killing, saying that it is a crime that seriously harms both Jews and Arabs. The United Arab List party called the murder "inhuman," with party head Taleb al-Sana calling on the public not to blame the entire Arab population for the soldier´s murder.
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Foreign Minister Silavan Shalom vowed that Israel would find Shaichat´s killers and bring them to trial. (© Copyright 2003 Haaretz. 07/28/03)
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