A Palestinian man was charged on Wednesday, over the death of a pregnant Israeli woman whom Israeli police say was his girlfriend, as the accused and the victim’s relatives presented drastically different versions of the case.
Israeli police cleared for publication details of the case on Wednesday, in time for a hearing extending the remand of Muhammad Harouf, a resident of the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, who is accused of murdering 29-year-old Michal Halimi, Israeli news outlet Ynet reported.
Halimi was reported missing on May 23, when she was five months pregnant, and her body was found on July 24 on a beach in Holon, near Tel Aviv, according to Ma’an.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement, on Wednesday, that Halimi and Harouf were romantically involved, and that she had willingly gone to live with him in Nablus when her relatives reported that she had gone missing.
Harouf denied that he had been in a relationship with Halimi at the hearing, claiming that he had killed her “to release (Palestinian) prisoners” held by Israel, before being removed from the courtroom shouting “I’ll kill all the Jews!,” Ynet reported.
The Israeli news outlet also quoted Halimi’s husband, Aharon Halimi, as denying that his wife had had an affair, saying that the family would “sue the police” for investigating the case as a criminal instead of a “nationalistic issue.”
However, other relatives told Ynet that Halimi had met Harouf through social media more than 10 years earlier, and that she had told the Palestinian that she wanted to leave him and return to her husband, which they saw as the likeliest motive for the murder.
Romantic relationships between Palestinians and Jewish-Israelis remain taboo in both societies, due to the 70-year conflict since the establishment of the state of Israel.
Lehava, an extremist right-wing Israeli group, has notably come out in virulent opposition to relationships between Jews and non-Jews which could lead to “diluting the Jewish race.”