State prosecutors on Sunday convicted a Palestinian man who has confessed to murdering his pregnant Israeli lover “because she was a Jew.”
The charge sheet was amended to reflect that Nablus resident Muhammad Harouf murdered Michal Halimi for “nationalistic reasons,” and not in a purely domestic dispute, as initially thought.
Harouf was also charged with vehicular theft, criminal conspiracy, credit card fraud, and illegal entry into Israel.
He is expected to get life in prison, despite signing a plea deal.
State prosecutor Raed Anuz of the Tel Aviv District Attorney’s office described the murder as “shocking” during Sunday’s proceedings.
“The defendant strangled Halimi when she was pregnant and dumped her body in the sand where she wasn’t found for two months,” he said.
Halimi, a married resident of the West Bank settlement of Adam, was reported missing by her family last May.
After an initial search, police determined that Halimi was romantically involved with Harouf and left her husband so the two could live together in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
When investigators learned the two had met up in Holon on the day of Halimi was last seen, police detained Harouf for questioning. He eventually confessed to strangling Halimi and led police to the crime scene.
According to the revised indictment, Harouf had tried to persuade Halimi to come with him to Nablus. When she refused, he strangled her, and then bludgeoned her face in with cinder blocks before burying her nearby. He then stole her car and credit cards and fled to Taibe, according to the indictment.
The car was later sold in the West Bank through an intermediary, the charges said. Harouf also unsuccessfully attempted to pull money out of Halimi’s bank account.
Halimi’s body was uncovered in Holon’s Sand Dunes Park in late July, over two months after she was last seen alive.
At the time of her murder, Halimi was eight months pregnant and married to an Israeli man named Aharon. It was not immediately clear who the baby’s father was.
At his first court appearance in August last year, Harouf insisted his affair with Halimi was not the motivation for the murder, telling reporters he acted in order “to free [Palestinian] prisoners,” and yelled that he would “kill all the Jews.”
After the details of the story emerged last year, Halimi’s widower, Aharon, denied his late wife was having an affair, and vowed to file a lawsuit against Israel Police for spreading false information about her.