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Missing U.S. student could scuttle Gaza peace

Concern in the U.S. and Israel continues over the welfare of a New Jersey religious student, who has been missing since Friday during an outing with a friend outside Jerusalem.

Rabbinical student Aaron Sofer, of Lakewood, New Jersey, went missing last week while hiking with a friend in the Jerusalem Forest.

Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Tuesday they were not limiting Sofer’s disappearance to misadventure. Rosenfeld added this latest missing student could be a result of “nationalistic motives.”

Aaron Sofer, who is an ultra-Orthodox student at a yeshiva — a Jewish religious school, became estranged from his hiking companion while descending a hill in the Jerusalem forest.

On Monday, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) called for more help from both the U.S. and Israeli governments in the search for Sofer.

Hours ago Sofer’s two younger brothers reached out to his presumed captors:

“Everyone should do everything they can to bring him back in good health,” his brother Yaakov Sofer said.

“Bring back my brother,” said his brother, Tuvia Sofer.

The ink is barely dry on the Egyptian-brokered cease fire between Hamas and Israel, bringing to an end months of rocket fire and bombings that have killed more than 2,200 people, mainly Palestinians. This latest conflict began after the abduction and killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank by Hamas operatives in June. Israeli settlers kidnapped and burned to death a young Palestinian boy near Jerusalem in an apparent retaliation.