Eritrean asylum seeker called police days before murder, killer at large

Police are also searching for the murderer of a second teenage girl who had been missing since last Wednesday.

November 27, 2018 13:07
2 minute read.
Silvana Tsegai

Silvana Tsegai. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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One suspect is at large and four others are in custody after two teenage girls were found dead on Monday in a pair of unrelated brutal murders that have transfixed the public.

Yara Ayub, 16, from the Arab village of Gush Halav in the Galilee, was discovered in a dumpster after having gone missing three days before. Silvana Tsegai, a 12-year-old Eritrean asylum-seeker, was found by her mother in their apartment in the Hatikva neighborhood of Tel Aviv, police said.

Police have placed a gag order on the investigation into Ayub’s case, though police said that a father and son, aged 53 and 28, were arrested in connection with the teenager’s murder. Two additional suspects, a 21-year-old youth and a 50-year-old woman were also arrested Tuesday evening, The Jerusalem Post’s sister publication Maariv reported. The Nazareth District Court extended the arrest of the original suspects for a further nine days.

“She was a sweet girl and had no problems,” Ayub’s uncle Saleh Mahmoud told Army Radio. “There are many rumors, but the person who did this is not connected to the family.”

The main suspect in Tsegai’s murder is the mother’s ex-boyfriend, Tesfabran Tesfatsion, also from Eritrea.

Tesfatsion’s father described him as “crazy,” KAN radio reported. Tesfatsion fled the scene, and police are in pursuit.

Tsegai and her mother were planning to leave Israel at the time of the girl’s murder, a move that Tesfatsion opposed, Ynet reported.

While police have originally claimed that Tsegai had not filed any complaints with the police leading up to the murder, a police spokesperson later announced that several days prior to her death she called to complain about Tesfatsion, who had come to the apartment to collect his belongings.

“Both in that complaint and after being questioned by officers about him, the girl stated that he never used violence against her in any way,” the statement said.

Police also asked for the public’s help in locating Tesfatsion.

The Tel Aviv municipality also released a statement denying any previous complaints by the mother or daughter. The girl’s mother was in contact with the Office for Migrant Community Assistance (Mesila) more than a year ago and was advised to file a complaint with the police; she has not been in touch since then.

Johnny, an asylum-seeker from Eritrea who knew Tsegai, told KAN News that she had called the police on Saturday, days before the murder, complaining that Tesfatsion had been threatening her for months.

“For the past two weeks the neighbors were saying that the mother was afraid” of Tesfatsion, Johnny said. “The girl told the neighbors that she did not want to go home.”

“We can no longer bear the terrible news that just keeps coming,” said the Israel Women’s Network in response to the murders. “This is an emergency that cannot be ignored. It’s time for the government to join the war for the lives of women in Israel.”

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