The manhunt for an Eritrean national wanted for the murder of a young girl in Tel Aviv that has shocked the country came to an end Wednesday night as police arrested Tesfebarhan Tesfasion after a brief chase.
Tesfasion had been on the run since the body of Sylvana Tsegai, 13, was found in her home in the city on Monday. He was reportedly her mother’s ex-boyfriend.
A member of the public recognized Tesfasion from photos published in media and on social networks and alerted police, Hebrew media reported.
When cops arrived at the location, near the Carmel open market in south Tel Aviv, Tesfasion tried to flee but was quickly apprehended.
Surveillance video published by the Kan state broadcaster showed Tesfasion in a corner store calmly buying goods moments before he was arrested. Aside from a hood, he seemed to make no effort to conceal his face.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) November 28, 2018
The killing of Tsegai and Yara Ayoub, 16, whose body was found in her Galilee home several hours earlier, has renewed calls for action to prevent violence against women.
In an interview with Hadashot news broadcast shortly before the announcement of Tesfasion’s capture, Tsegai’s mother, Malay Guawi described her agony over the death of her daughter.
“I had one girl and now she is dead,” Guawi, also an Eritrean asylum seeker, told the Hadashot news channel in an interview broadcast Wednesday evening. “I want my girl to come back now,”
She described Tesfasion as “not a good person.”
“I took him into my home and he made a mess. I did not know that he would do this to my girl.”
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) November 28, 2018
On Tuesday, Tesfasion’s father told the media his son was “crazy” and he did not care if the police killed him.
According to Hadashot, Tesfasion entered Israel in 2010 through the Egyptian border and is known to authorities for previous offenses. He was sentenced to one year in prison for drunk driving and forging a driving license.
He also previously escaped from a holding facility for African migrants and allegedly tried to obtain an extension for his permit to stay in the country by using a forged marriage license. Tens of thousands of African migrants entered Israel from Egypt in the last decade and many now live in Tel Aviv.
Tsegai’s body is at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute awaiting an autopsy before it is flown back to Eritrea for burial, according to the channel.
Initial results of the examination show she was sexually assaulted and then strangled to death, Channel 10 television news reported.
According to reports, Tsegai was known to welfare authorities as a victim of domestic violence before the killing. She reportedly called police on Saturday to complain about Tesfasion being in her home.
Earlier Wednesday, a group of women demonstrated outside the main Tel Aviv police station to protest violence against women, which has claimed 23 victims since the beginning of the year.
Protesters, dressed in black, held up signs bearing the names of the women murdered this year and others reading “The blood of women is not worthless.”
Women activists also held demonstrations Tuesday in various cities around the country against violence to women and against what they say is the helplessness of authorities in addressing the issue. There were demonstrations in Beersheba and in Jerusalem outside the Knesset building, as well as in Tel Aviv.
At the Jerusalem demonstration the women lay motionless on the ground in a large puddle of blood-colored liquid.
In another case, Ayoub, 16, was found Monday four days after she went missing from the Arab village of Jish. Police have arrested four suspects in connection with the case, much of which remains under gag order.
The killings came as Israel and the world marked Sunday’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition shot down an opposition attempt to form a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the scourge.
Netanyahu said he would form a ministerial commission instead, but lawmakers have asked to bring the legislation back up for another vote in light of the fresh murders.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Wednesday informed lawmakers pushing for the inquiry vote that he is coordinating with the prime minister to implement solutions to end the violence against women, Hadashot reported.
The lawmakers have suggested that the committee be led by female MKs from both the coalition and the opposition. Edelstein said he will think about the idea after consultations with the prime minister.
However, opposition MK Stav Shaffir (Zionist Union) rejected Edelstein’s message as being without substance.
“This is another way to fudge this matter which has become a social terror,” she said according to the report. “The hundreds of women murdered in the last decade and the 23 were murdered just this year are not enough to make this government wake up and stop just handing out promises. The only thing that needs to be done it to fully implement the government plan for dealing with the terrible phenomenon and to make sure that the urgently needed budgets get to those engaged in the work.”