A recent image of missing person Oliver McAfee..
(photo credit: POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
The family of missing British tourist Oliver McAfee, 29, who was last seen biking in the Negev Desert on November 19, has asked the public for help in determining his whereabouts.
During an emotional press conference on Wednesday at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, McAfee’s older brother Matthew McAfee, and paternal uncle, Clive McAfee, said they remained hopeful that he was still alive.
According to Matthew, Oliver arrived in Israel on October 25 to bike across the country and camp in rural areas. His return flight was booked for December 1.
McAfee was last seen in Mitzpe Ramon, near a bus stop and hiking trail, where Israeli Police found his bicycle, journals, a Tablet containing 5,000 pictures and passages from the New Testament written on several pieces of paper and rocks in the area.
The latter discovery spurred speculation in both the British and Israeli press that he may have developed Jerusalem Syndrome
After thanking the police, search and rescue volunteers, and the British Embassy for their assistance in trying to locate McAfee, Clive said his nephew arrived in Israel after touring Europe on his bicycle and a stint in Mexico, where he volunteered to build housing for disadvantaged residents.
“Oliver looked forward to his trip to Israel, but he didn’t want to do an organized tour, but rather see the country on his bike to meet local people and understand the customs and culture,” said Clive. “When he didn’t return on the first of December, his family and friends obviously became very concerned and contacted the authorities.”
Matthew said he and Clive have reviewed hundreds of pages of journals written by his brother chronicling his time in Israel, and noted that none of the entries indicated cause for concern.
“We spend hours and hours reading the journals and everything we saw indicated this was a normal trip,” he said. “He wrote of the warmth people showed him by inviting him to their homes and giving him water when he was on his bike. So, he really enjoyed the hospitality of the country.”
Three days before being reported missing, Matthew said Oliver wrote of an accident on his bike, but said that he did not sustain serious injuries.
“He mentioned his accident and wrote about plans to travel north to Tel Aviv to come home, and he seemed quite conscious of the use of his time here,” he said. “He knew his time was limited.”
“It was a perfect trip for Oliver, so we want to know what happened on November 19,” he added, holding back tears. “Everything up to that day was normal.”
Asked about the possibility of Jerusalem Syndrome, both his brother and Uncle said the passages found were little more than a healthy interest in Christianity.
“As his brother, I can tell you that everything he has written and done is normal,” said Matthew.
McAfee is described as thin, with curly ginger hair down to his shoulders, a goatee and glasses.
Police are requesting that anyone who has seen him or knows of his whereabouts, contact the Dimona police station at (08) 654-3444.