Israeli television reported Wednesday that witnesses said they saw an Israeli soldier apparently seized while hitchhiking north of Tel Aviv, but a police spokesman later said he was found safe.

Israeli security was on high alert north of Tel Aviv for fear that a Palestinian homicide bomber was in the area, and police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said roadblocks were set up in the Sharon area.

Tensions have run high in Israel since it launched military offensives in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon after militants attacked soldiers on both fronts.

An explosion in a barrel near a major highway near Tel Aviv frightened bystanders and prompted a false report to police that a car had blown up in the area, Rosenfeld said.

Serious traffic jams were reported in the entire metropolitan area of Tel Aviv becaue of the roadblocks.

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