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Police confirm they found body of missing woman; former partner suspected

Body found in northern Israel following 11 days of searches for Sapir Nachum, a 24-year-old mother of two; police minister vows to continue fight to stop violence against women

Sapir Nachum (Police spokesperson's unit)
Sapir Nachum (Police spokesperson's unit)

Police said on Monday that a body found in northern Israel is that of a woman from Acre who has been missing for nearly two weeks and who officers suspect was murdered by her former boyfriend.

A widespread search had been ongoing since June 2 for Sapir Nachum, a 24-year-old mother of two.

Police uncovered Nachum’s body on Sunday near the Bedouin village of Ibtin — about 25 kilometers south of Acre — an area that officials had been combing over the past few days.

Following its discovery, the body was transferred to the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Tel Aviv for identification.

“Police worked nonstop for 11 days to find Sapir, but unfortunately the searches ended with a tragic result,” a police statement said.

It said investigators were at the scene, gathering evidence.

Family members of Sapir Nachum arrive at the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine near Tel Aviv, June 13, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

“Why did they murder my daughter?” Nachum’s mother said on Monday when police officers came to their home to break the tragic news.

“I lost Sapir,” said her brother Victor. “I miss her very much. I can’t fathom the fact that she was murdered and will not return to us. This is a terrible disaster.”

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev sent his condolences to the family and vowed that authorities will continue their battle to stop violence against women.

“The Israel Police has made great efforts in recent days to find Sapir Nahum, and we all prayed that she would be found alive and healthy,” he said on Twitter.

“Unfortunately, Sapir’s body was found yesterday after she was murdered. We will not relent in our fight to stop violence against women. I share in the family’s heavy mourning.”

Israel Police conduct searches on June 5, 2022, for missing Acre mom Sapir Nachum. (Israel Police)

Commenting on the news while addressing the Knesset plenum, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also sent his condolences to the family, saying that he “hopes that the truth will soon be uncovered.”

Police have arrested Walaa Khalilah, Nachum’s former boyfriend, on suspicion that he murdered her, though he denies any involvement.

Earlier in the day, a court denied him bail and ordered he remain in custody until at least June 21, though he has not been charged.

Khalilah, the father of her two young children, had been arrested before for violent offenses and vandalism.

Family members of Nachum told Israeli media that he had previously served many years in prison.

Nachum was last seen in person when she left her home on Herzl Street on June 2 with her 2-year-old daughter, whom she dropped off at daycare. She is also survived by an 8-month-old baby.

Walaa Jamal Rubin Khalilah, suspect in the disappearance of his partner Sapir Nachum, arrives for a court hearing at the Magistrate Court in Acre, June 13, 2022. (ALON NADAV/FLASH 90)

Relatives of the woman were said to fear the worst after she was later seen in security video footage entering a car belonging to the father of her children. Nachum was said to be involved in a financial dispute with her former partner.

Due to Khalilah being an Arab, far-right activists and politicians alleged that Nachum’s death was racially motivated, with Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben Gvir calling him a “terrorist.”

“They cannot tell us that there is no nationalist motive here. Sapir was not killed in a car accident. The only punishment terrorists deserve is death,” he said.

Benzi Gopstein, head of the extremist organization Lehava, called Nachum’s death “another reminder of how dangerous miscegenation is.”

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