Missing 22-year-old Niv Asraf from Be'er Sheva has been found alive by Israeli forces after a ten hour search.
Asraf, who was presumed missing in the West Bank near Chevron, was found in the Palestinian village of Kiryat Arba.
He reportedly entered the village of Beit Anun and did not return, prompting fears he had been abducted. The case was initially treated as a kidnapping, but it later emerged that Asraf's soldier friend fabricated the kidnapping.
Asraf's friend, who has not been identified, called the police at 4:17 p.m. and reported that they had a flat tyre between Kiryat Arba and Beit Anun. He told the police that Asraf had entered the village to get tools to change the tyre, but never returned.
Hundreds of policemen and soldiers from the IDF's Judea and Samaria division were deployed to the area to search for Asraf, including Special Unit soldiers. The troops were searching houses and cars in Bayt Einun. The IDF also launched drones and observation balloons into the air to for a bird's eye view of the area.
The army closed roads around Bayt Einun on Highway 60 and Highway 35 as part of the search effort and declared the entire area a closed military zone.
However, when the IDF arrived at the scene, troops found no flat tyres in the vehicle and after other questions arose from the friend's story, he was taken for questioning. His friend admitted filing a false report.
IDF Spokesman Moti Almoz said: "At first the friend told us (Asraf) went in a particular direction, and then it turned out it was somewhere else, but it might not have been maliciously."
A Judea and Samaria Police spokesman added: "The 'missing man' and his friends staged a kidnapping. We'll investigate the reasons behind this and will handle this to the full extent of the law," the spokesman said.
After Asraf was found, IDF troops returned to their routine activity, while the investigation into the incident was passed on to the police.