July 28, 2003
Near the Israeli-Arab village of Kfar Kana, just north of Nazareth in the
lower Galilee, searchers found the body of Oleg Shchaiat this morning. Thus came
to a tragic end a week of an intense investigation into the sudden
disappearance of the soldier. The police and Shabak surmise that Oleg, 20, was kidnapped
by Arabs who murdered him shortly afterwards. Left mostly unsaid is the
suspicion that it was Israeli-Arabs who perpetrated the crime.
Earlier this morning, Defense Minister Sha’ul Mofaz visited the site of the
search. Thousands of people took part in looking for the missing soldier, and
the security forces continually asked for more volunteers over the past two
Shchaiat, who is survived by his parents and his brother Adam, is the 35th
victim of what some have dubbed the Road Map War, beginning after the Aqaba
Summit on June 3, 2003.
Northern District Police Chief Yaakov Borovsky said it was Oleg’s quick
thinking that helped the police find his body. It is assumed that the murderers
killed him shortly after abducting him, but Oleg managed to throw off his dog tag
and beret – the discovery of which helped lead investigators find the
olive-tree orchard in which he was shot and buried.
Oleg Shchaiat joins a list of some 20 soldiers who have been abducted and
murdered by Palestinian terrorists in the past two decades. The list includes
David Bukara, Avi Sasportas, Hadas Kedmi, Ilan Saadon, Nissim Toledano, Aryeh
Frankental, Nachshon Wachsman, and others.
MK Gila Finkelstein (NRP) said that Prime Minister Sharon should cancel the
plans to release Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners, as “the difficult
circumstances are not appropriate for gestures towards the Palestinians.”
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said that the murder was “shocking,” that Abu
Mazen had not yet made the operative decision to uproot the terrorist
infrastructures, and “as long as the terror organizations are not disarmed, the
blow-up of the [diplomatic] process is just a matter of time.”
MK Ophir Pines (Labor) said that the hopes of all Israel to find Oleg alive
were dashed, and that he hopes that the investigation shows that Israeli-Arabs
were not involved.