22-year-old Niv Assaraf, the Be’er Sheva man who faked his own abduction to a national panic last week, claims that the incident was not pre-planned, he stated in a Monday afternoon press conference, Arutz Sheva reports.
“I had not planned to be abducted,” he explained to reporters, adding that he had simply meant to “disappear” after getting an ominous call.
“I planned to disappear and make them look for me,” he added. “I slept in two T-shirts, there was no sleeping bag with me.
“I had no contact with the world,” he said. “I did not take my cell phone with me because I didn’t want them to track me.”
“If I would have known the mess this would have caused I would not have stayed there,” he added. “I’m sorry for what happened.”
Assaraf stated that the motive behind the disappearing act was to escape threats from the mafia after he won a great deal of money gambling – contrary to earlier reports which instead stated that he was suffering from massive gambling debts. He feared for his life; he claimed that police did not help him or protect him.
Assaraf stressed that he did not plan to stage a kidnapping, and said that if he was planning to stage a kidnapping he would not have left without money or any equipment.
Both Niv Assaraf and accomplice Eran Nagauker were released from police custody on Monday, but only under several conditions.
Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Monday ordered the conditional release of Assaraf and Nagauker, who have been charged with conspiracy to commit a crime, fabricating evidence, obstruction of justice, disturbing the peace and obstruction of a law enforcement officer.
Judge Chen Avital ruled that each will be required to deposit NIS 3,000 in cash and sign a bail agreement of NIS 10,000.
Israeli security forces were first alerted to Assaraf’s disappearance on Friday, when Nagauker called the police at around 4pm, saying the two had become stranded with a flat tire on their way to pray at the Cave of the Patriarchs. Nagauker said Assaraf went to find tools to replace the tire but never returned.
But when the IDF arrived at the scene, troops found no flat tires and after determining there were holes in Nagauker’s story, he was taken for questioning. Assaraf was located hours later in a nearby wadi, equipped with a sleeping bag and canned food.
The police had asked the court to release the two to house arrest for one week, and ban them from the West Bank for three months. The judge ruled that they could be released under those restrictions, and also barred them from leaving the country until May 6.