Two teenage girls were found dead on Monday, both brutally murdered: 16-year-old Yara Ayub from Jish and 13-year-old Eritrean native Silvana Tsegai, who lives in Tel Aviv.
Ayub had been missing for three days when her body was found in a dumpster on Monday afternoon. A 28-year-old resident of Jish was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping Ayub and obstructing justice. A 53-year-old man was also arrested in connection with the case. The circumstances of the murder are not yet clear, and a gag order has been put on the investigation.
Ayub was last seen alive visiting a local bakery. “She was on her way to her friend’s birthday and stopped at the bakery to buy something, and then we lost contact with her. On Monday they told us her body was found,” said her father, Nashat Ayub.
“My heart is aching for my beautiful girl,” he added. ”She was a special girl, she always made sure it was happy at home. It’s terrible that we’ve lost her.”
“I just want to hold her and kiss her, give her back to me. How can we go on without her?” Ayub's mother said in tears.
The head of the local council declared a general strike on Tuesday following the events. “Normally, things are quiet here. We’ve all been part of the search party for the girl, and we weren't expecting this news,” he said.
The 13-year-old Silvana Tsegai was found dead at an apartment in southern Tel Aviv after she had been beaten to death. The police are searching for Tesfabran Tesfatsion, the former partner of the girl's mother. The mother is not a suspect.
After failing to reach her daughter on the phone, the mother rushed home, where she found the Silvana's body and called the police. Silvana's father, who arrived at the scene, collapsed.
The mother pointed to her former partner, who was imprisoned in the past for traffic violations, as a possible suspect.
The suspect's father said his son and Silvana's mother separated three months ago. "He was angry at the girl's mother, and they separated. I don't know why," he said.
The father added that "the girl's mother is a very good woman; the problem is with him ... my son is a criminal, stupid and crazy. I didn't think he'd murder the girl, it would've been better if he murdered me."
"We can no longer bear the terrible news that just keep coming. After the body of a 16-year-old girl was found in the north, now we've learned about the death of a teenager in Tel Aviv, whose body was found with signs of violence," said the Israel Women’s Network. "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."
The Israel National Council for the Child added, "Two girls were murdered today. This is a difficult and painful evening, and the horrendous series of events requires real soul-searching. We cannot accept the murder of children—not on the streets and certainly not at their homes. The protection of children in the family and in general needs to be at the top of the national list of priorities. We call on the government to allocate resources for early detection and treatment of distress, immediate protection in dangerous situations, real-time warning of at-risk cases and for coordination between welfare, health, education and law enforcement authorities."
The two girls make up the 23rd and 24th women murdered this year, reaching a record number of gender-related murders in the past five years, according to the Israel Women’s Network.
Hassan Shaalan, Eli Senyor, Ittai Shickman, Amir Alon and Adir Yanko contributed to this story.