The body of an Israeli woman killed in the truck-ramming attack at a Berlin Christmas market four days ago was identified Wednesday night, ending a search effort by authorities and thin hopes that she was among several people injured in the attack who have yet to be unidentified.
The family of Dalia Elyakim, 60, was informed overnight that she had been confirmed as one of the 12 people killed in the attack, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said Thursday morning. Arrangements were being made to bring her body back to Israel for burial, a spokesman for the ministry said.
Her husband, who was seriously injured in the attack, was named as Rami Elyakim, also 60. The two were visiting Berlin from Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv.
Elyakim’s son and daughter had arrived in Berlin overnight Tuesday to help with the search for their mother and to visit their father.
President Reuven Rivlin said he received the news of Elyakim’s death “with great sadness.”
“From here I send my sympathies and offer strength to her family who are by the bedside of her husband, Rami, who was seriously injured in the attack, and we pray for his speedy recovery,” Rivlin said in a statement. “We will remain united and determined in the face of this murderous terror which strikes across the world, and we will fight relentlessly against extremism and hatred.”
In addition to the 12 fatalities, 48 people were wounded when a truck tore through the crowd on the day before, smashing wooden stalls and crushing victims in scenes reminiscent of July’s deadly attack in the French Riviera city of Nice.
Sources in the German Embassy told Hebrew press on Tuesday they were remaining optimistic that the Elyakim would be found alive, but that they had also been to local morgues to try and rule out that she was among the dead.
The truck struck the popular market outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church late Monday, as tourists and locals were enjoying a traditional pre-Christmas evening out near the Berlin Zoo station.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that law enforcement believed the deadly rampage was a terrorist attack. But authorities came under fire Wednesday after it emerged that the prime suspect, a rejected Tunisian asylum seeker, had already been known as a potentially dangerous jihadist.
German prosecutors issued a Europe-wide wanted notice for 24-year-old Anis Amri, offering a €100,000 ($104,000) reward for information leading to his arrest and warning he “could be violent and armed.”
Asylum office papers believed to belong to Amri, alleged to have links to the radical Islamist scene, were found in the cab of the 40-ton truck.
Police Wednesday searched a refugee center in Emmerich, western Germany, where Amri stayed a few months ago, as well as two apartments in Berlin, the media reported.
As the Europe-wide manhunt intensified, questions were also raised about how the suspect had been able to avoid arrest and deportation despite being on the radar of several security agencies.
“The authorities had him in their cross-hairs and he still managed to vanish,” said Der Spiegel weekly on its website.
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung criticized police for wasting time focusing on a Pakistani suspect immediately after the truck assault, in what turned out to be a false lead.
“It took a while before the federal police turned to Amri as a suspect,” it said.
The attack, Germany’s deadliest in recent years, has been claimed by the Islamic State group.
Germany has boosted security measures following the carnage, beefing up the police presence at train stations, airports and at its borders with Poland and France.