Body of ballet dancer who was washed out to sea found after extensive search
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Body of ballet dancer who was washed out to sea found after extensive search

Ayman Safiah, considered one of the most talented Arab Israeli performers the country has produced, disappeared Sunday off Atlit

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Ayman Safiah (Courtesy)
Ayman Safiah (Courtesy)

Efforts by police and volunteer divers to find a renowned ballet dancer who was washed out to sea earlier in the week ended on Wednesday when the body of Ayman Safiah, 29, was found off of Atlit beach after an intense four-day effort.

Safiah, considered one the most talented Arab Israeli dancers the country has ever produced, disappeared after entering the Mediterranean off the coast of Neve Yam in northern Israel on Sunday.

According to Hebrew media reports, Safiah was with a friend at the time and the two were pulled out to sea by currents.

Safiah managed to push the woman he was with back toward the shore but was unable to pull himself from the water.

Police launched a search for him after he was reported missing and in the following days dozens of friends, family, and volunteers, including divers, have joined the operation.

A relative told Channel 12 news that the family had received concerned messages from people in Israel and abroad, “something that testifies about the person and his character.”

MK Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List alliance of predominantly Arab parties, who had arrived at the scene on Tuesday to watch the searchers and speak with the family, tweeted on Wednesday that “the hundreds of Arab and Jewish volunteers who arrived to support his family prove that his spirit is still with us.”

“Condolences to the family,” he wrote. “What a terrible loss.”

He had previously said he found the family disappointed with the police efforts.

“The family tells us that they are the ones leading most of the searches over the past few days and sharply criticized emergency services for waking up too late,” Odeh tweeted earlier this week. “I am full of appreciation for the hundreds of young people who came to help search and our hearts are with the Safiah family.”

In a statement Tuesday the Israel Police said it was “investing the best operational forces, resources and technological capabilities to find the missing person.”

Searches had been carried out in the air using a helicopter and drones as well as at sea and by divers, and along beaches in the area, the statement said, adding that police appreciated the efforts of the volunteers who were helping in the search.

On Saturday Safiah had posted on his Facebook page a video of himself dancing.

#keepmoving

פורסם על ידי ‏‎Ayman Safiah‎‏ ב- יום שבת, 23 במאי 2020

He began his dance studies at a school in Kibbutz Ga’aton in northern Israel. He later went on to complete a masters degree in dance in London and, after performing internationally, returned to Israel to continue his career and teach dance.

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