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Photo: Yair Sagi
Halimi, left, and Haroud
Photo: Yair Sagi
Palestinian convicted of killing pregnant Israeli woman
Mohammed Harouf, who murdered 29-year-old Michal Halimi, with whom he was in contact, convicted as part of a plea deal of nationalistically-motivated murder despite the fact original indictment made no mention of such motive.
Mohammed Harouf, a Palestinian resident of Nablus, was convicted Sunday as part of a plea deal of the murder of an Israeli woman with whom he was in contact.

 

 

While the original indictment made no mention of nationalism as a factor in the murder, the plea included Harouf's admission that the murder was nationalistically motivated.

 

Harouf, who faces life in prison, was arrested in August 2017 after the body of 29-year-old Michal Halimi, who was eight months pregnant at the time of her death, was found near the city of Holon.

 

Mohammed Harouf (Photo: Yair Sagi)
Mohammed Harouf (Photo: Yair Sagi)

 

During his interrogation, Harouf confessed to have strangled Halimi and striking her head with a rock. He said he then covered her body and left the scene in her car.

 

In addition to murder, Harouf was also convicted of car theft and of conspiring to commit a crime.

 

"The defendant murdered the deceased while she was carrying a baby in her womb, strangled her and tossed rocks on her. He didn't even bury her, and instead left her covered in leaves, sand and a tire," a representative from the State Attorney's Office said at court.

  

"We've accepted the defendant's version, according to which the murder of the deceased was nationalistically motivated, over the fact she was Jewish," he added.

 

Explaining why Harouf wasn't accused of nationalistically-motivated murder at the outset, the prosecution's representative said that "At first we believed the motive was not quite what the defendant had claimed, as he provided a different version to a friend."

 

Michal Halimi
Michal Halimi

 

At an earlier court hearing, Harouf was asked by reporters why he committed the murder, to which he responded, "I wanted to release prisoners." He also denied he was romantically involved with his victim, and then proceeded to kick guards before being physically removed from the court room while shouting, "I'll kill all the Jews!"

 

Attorney Ruty Eldar, representing Halimi's family, said at the conclusion of the hearing that, "The parents have said all along—and the court has now given it legal credence—that here was a man who carried out the premeditated murder of a Jewish woman.

 

"His hiding of the body caused the family untold suffering, which they can say has now ended. The case, as far as they're concerned, is closed."

 

Harouf's advocate, meanwhile, said, "Harouf admitted to the murder during his interrogation and explained his motive was nationalistic-security related. Unfortunately, law enforcement did not believe him and were of the opinion the murder was a crime of passion, as the original incitement said."

 

"Following a meeting with the district attorney, however, it was decided to accept his account and amend the charge to reflect the nationalistic motivation, to which he confessed right from the very beginning," attorney Elad Mann said.

 

Harouf (L) shared a photo with Halimi
Harouf (L) shared a photo with Halimi

Halimi's parents welcomed the plea deal. "Today, what we've been saying all along has been proven to be the truth," said Gita, Michal's mother.

 

She decried claims her daughter, who was married, had been in a romantic relationship with her killer. "We knew our daughter for 30 years. We raised her and we knew she was incapable of doing the things written about her. She was pregnant and happy. We, her parents, didn't know anything other than the fact she was very stressed and threatened in her final days."

 

Aharon Halimi, Michal's husband, made the same claim immediately following the murder. "Our relationship was constant and normal. I reported her missing in May, which may have been brought on by pressures exerted on her. It's completely nationalistic, not romantic," he said then.

 

"She was five months pregnant when she disappeared," her widowed husband added. "Our relationship was very good and we were waiting on that baby. Our relationship was perfect and that expectation of a new baby was nipped in the bud," he lamented.

 

The victim met her murderer the day she was killed

On May 23rd, Michal Halimi was reported missing. In a statement related to the disappearance, she was last reported to be in a blue Suzuki.

 

Harouf's Facebook profile said he got engaged May 11
Harouf's Facebook profile said he got engaged May 11

 

Following an investigation by police, Halimi was discovered to have left her home of her own volition and was apparently staying at the house of a young Palestinian man from Nablus, with who she was in a relationship.

 

The two had posted pictures on Facebook indicating their intention to become engaged.

 

As the investigation progressed however, Harouf was questioned several times and became a suspect when inconsistencies in his statements regarding the whereabouts of Halimi began to arise.

 

At that point, police in the central district began to employ increasingly sophisticated technological means of investigating Harouf and detained several more suspects from the Tayibe area that were found to be involved.

 

The scene where Halimi's body was discovered (Photo: Police Spokesperson's Unit)
The scene where Halimi's body was discovered (Photo: Police Spokesperson's Unit)

 

During questioning, the additional suspects confirmed to police that the two were involved in a romantic relationship and on the day of her disappearance, the two met in the Holon area where she was probably murdered.

 

On July 24th, Halimi's body was discovered in sand dunes near Holon following an extensive search and later positively identified at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute.

 


First published: 02.04.18, 15:09
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