Israel Police announced they had found on Wednesday a lifeless body on a beach near Atlit, south of Haifa, which they connected to the extensive search being carried out for Ayman Safiah, 29, an internationally renowned dancer and artist from the Arab town of Kafr Yasif in northern Israel.
Safiah has been missing since Sunday, after last being seen that morning entering the water at Atlit's Neveh Yam beach.
According to Safiah’s friends, the young dancer had joined them on the beach on Saturday. On Sunday morning, one of Safiah’s female friends got into trouble in the water and he tried to pull her out. “The waves were high and the sea swept them away,” his cousin, Khaled Safiah, told Haaretz. The woman he was trying to save managed to come back to shore safely, but Safiah did not.
Amru Hader, a close friend of Safiah’s, said Ayman was known to be a good swimmer and was often at the beach, which is why they were having a hard time processing what happened. “It isn’t logical that Ayman, who is in excellent shape, would disappear like that,” said Hader.
As of Tuesday, the police was conducting searches as far north as Rosh Hanikra on the Lebanese border, and as far south as Cesarea, halfway to Tel Aviv. Other people joined, after friends launched a social media campaign asking for assistance.
Safiah’s family criticized the authorities for allegedly not doing enough to try to find him, claims which the police vehemently rebuffed.
Safiah had been dancing professionally since he was 16. He was a member of the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company and had appeared with dance troupes in Europe. In 2009, Yehudit Arnon, founder of the Kibbutz dance company, described Safiah as the “Billy Elliot of Kafr Yasif” in an interview with Haaretz in Hebrew. Khaled, his cousin, said, “For him, dancing was his whole life.”