Palestinian sentenced to life for murdering pregnant Israeli lover
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Palestinian sentenced to life for murdering pregnant Israeli lover

Nablus resident Muhammad Harouf claims he strangled girlfriend Michal Halimi last year in terror attack, not romantic dispute

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Muhammad Harouf is brought to the Tel Aviv District Court on February 25, 2018 for sentencing. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
Muhammad Harouf is brought to the Tel Aviv District Court on February 25, 2018 for sentencing. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

A Palestinian man who said he murdered his pregnant Israeli lover last year “because she was a Jew” was sentenced on Sunday to life in prison.

The Tel Aviv District Court also sentenced Muhammad Harouf to an additional five years behind bars for a number of other crimes he committed connected to the disappearance and murder of Michal Halimi.

Harouf was further ordered to pay NIS 258,000 ($74,000) in compensation to her family.

The 29-year-old resident of Nablus in the northern West Bank was arrested last year for murdering Halimi, with whom he was having an affair, though he claimed he had killed her for “nationalistic reasons” and not in a domestic dispute.

Halimi, a married and pregnant resident of the West Bank settlement of Adam, was reported missing by her family last May.

Michal Halimi. (Israel Police)

After an initial search, police determined that Halimi was romantically involved with Harouf and left her husband so the two could live together in 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 indictment, Harouf had tried to persuade Halimi to come with him to Nablus. When she refused, he strangled her, and then bludgeoned her face 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, according to the indictment. Harouf also unsuccessfully attempted to withdraw money out of Halimi’s bank account.

Halimi’s body was uncovered in Holon’s Sand Dunes Park in late July, more than 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 clear who the baby’s father was.

Police at the scene of Michal Halimi’s murder in the Tel Aviv suburb of Holon in July 2017. (Israel Police)

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.”

The indictment, which initially listed Halimi as murdered in a domestic dispute, was later amended to include “nationalistic reasons.”

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.

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