Following an 11-day search that gripped the country, police confirmed on Monday that the body found on Sunday in the Bedouin village of Ibtin was that of missing mother of two Sapir Nahum. Nahum, 24, from Acre, went missing on June 2.
“I lost Sapir,” Nahum’s brother Victor told Ynet. “I miss her very much, and it is inconceivable that she was murdered and won’t return to us again.”
Nahum’s sister Eden said there were “no answers” to give her orphaned children.
“They are looking for a mother figure,” she said. “I believe they understand that Sapir will not return.”
On Monday, police arrested the brother of Nahum’s ex-partner, who is suspected of involvement in her disappearance. The ex-partner, 34-year-old Wahl Halayla, has been in remand since soon after Nahum’s disappearance.
The suspicion against Halayla was upgraded to include kidnapping and murder. He and his brother were only arrested due to their criminal history, he told the N12 news site, adding that “they have nothing to do with the murder.” He will remain in police custody for at least another week.
A potential case of domestic violence
Nahum was last seen with Halayla in his car. Police brought the suspect to court later on Monday to extend his arrest eight more days.
Halayla has a criminal background and is known to police as having been involved in illegal guns, drugs and violent activity.
He was arrested on June 3 after admitting that he had met Nahum. But he denied that he had anything to do with her disappearance. He was released shortly after but was then arrested again on June 4 after police observed him behaving suspiciously. He has been in custody since, and a gag order was placed on the case.
Halayla and Nahum had a troubled relationship, and Nahum was in the process of suing Halayla for child support before she disappeared.
Far-right anti-intermarriage organization Lehava said Nahum’s death was yet another reminder of the dangers of assimilation between Jews and Arabs.
The organization, which frequently advocates against romantic relationships between Jews and Arabs, had met with Nahum a year before her death. She said her partner would not harm her, Lehava said.
“If she had listened then, she would still be alive today,” Lehava CEO Benzi Gopstein said in a statement.
The organization said that following Nahum's murder, they were launching a new campaign titled "assimilation kills," complete with posters showing the death of girls who have been in relationships with Arabs.
The goal of this campaign, Lehava explained, is to urge Jewish women: "Leave the Arab now, do not wait for them to find your body."
Lehava further called on Israel's security forces to stop more of these murders from happening and specified the case of a woman named Rinat Lopez, a missing person who they say "we know for sure is being exploited by Arabs."