An Eilat couple was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of trying to buy a few days old infant from a 31-year-old pregnant Filipina migrant worker.

Eilat police suspect that the woman was trafficked to Israel for that purpose and that other people were involved as middlemen.

The two were arrested after they behaved in a suspicious manner in the maternity ward of Yoseftal Medical Center. The man had admitted the pregnant woman to the ward and claimed he was the baby's father.

He said he had had an affair with the migrant worker and that until his fatherhood is determined he and his Israeli wife had decided to look after the baby and her mother.

The hospital staff became suspicious and called the police. The couple was detained as well as the new mother, who later confessed to the plot.

The couple's remand was extended by four days on Monday. They claimed they had been living together for four years, and that the woman has a 10-year-old son from a previous marriage. The man reiterated his account of having had an affair with the Filipina, who allegedly approached him two months ago claiming he was the father of her child.

They insisted that they had not tried to steal the child or coerce the mother to do anything against her will.

Eilat Police Commander Chief Superintendent Eitan Gadasi said that they are suspected of breaching the Child Adoption Law and attempting to abduct a child while offering a financial incentive.

"The investigation is at a very early stage and it's too soon to talk of a network of baby importers who sell them on the black market."

The migrant worker was released to house arrest. The court ordered to keep the baby in hospital until further notice.