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Search continues for ballet dancer washed out to sea

Ayman Safiah, considered one of the most talented Arab Israeli performers the country has produced, disappeared Sunday; police, volunteer divers scouring coast, waters

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Ayman Safiah (Courtesy)
Ayman Safiah (Courtesy)

Efforts to find a renowned ballet dancer who was washed out to sea earlier in the week continued Wednesday as police and volunteer divers tried to locate Ayman Safiah. (Update: Safiah’s body was found later Wednesday.)

Safiah, 29, is considered one the most talented Arab Israeli dancers the country has ever produced and has performed internationally.

He entered the Mediterranean off the coast of Neve Yam in northern Israel on Sunday and has not been seen since.

According to Hebrew media reports, Safiah was with a friend at the time and the two were pulled out to sea by currents. Safiah managed to push the woman he was with back toward the shore but was unable to pull himself from the water.

פורסם על ידי ‏‎Ayman Safiah‎‏ ב- יום שישי, 7 ביוני 2019

Police launched a search for him after he was reported missing and in the following days dozens of friends, family, and volunteers, including divers, have joined the operation.

A relative told Channel 12 news that the family had received concerned messages from people in Israel and abroad, “something that testifies about the person and his character.”

MK Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List alliance of predominantly Arab parties, arrived at the scene on Tuesday to watch the searchers and speak with the family.

He said he found the family disappointed with the police efforts.

“The family tells us that they are the ones leading most of the searches over the past few days and sharply criticized emergency services for waking up too late,” Odeh tweeted. “I am full of appreciation for the hundreds of young people who came to help search and our hearts are with the Safiah family.”

In a statement Tuesday the Israel Police said it is “investing the best operational forces, resources and technological capabilities to find the missing person.”

Searches were being carried out in the air using a helicopter and drones as well as at sea and by divers, and along beaches in the area, the statement said, adding that police appreciated the efforts of the volunteers who were helping in the search.

On Saturday Safiah had posted on his Facebook page a video of himself dancing.

#keepmoving

פורסם על ידי ‏‎Ayman Safiah‎‏ ב- יום שבת, 23 במאי 2020

Safiah began his dance studies at a school in Kibbutz Ga’aton in northern Israel. He later went on to complete a masters degree in dance in London and, after performing internationally, returned to Israel to continue his career and teach dance.

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