Palestinian Who Confessed to Killing Pregnant Israeli Lover Gets Life in Prison

The 29-year-old Nablus resident initially claimed he executed the murder to avenge unrequited love. He will be sentenced to life in prison based on agreement with prosecution

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Victim Michal Halimi and killer Mohammed Kharif
Victim Michal Halimi and killer Mohammed Kharif Credit: Emil Salman
Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger

A 29-year-old Palestinian man from Nablus confessed Saturday to murdering an Israeli woman with whom he was having an affair. The court sentenced the man, identified as Mohammed Kharuf, to life in prison based on an agreement between the accused and the prosecution.

Kharuf said the murder of Michal Halimi was politically motivated.

When Kharuf was indicted last summer, no mention was made in the indictment of a political motive although he told investigators that he had murdered Halimi to further the release of Palestinian prisoners. However, the police concluded in their investigation that the murder had been committed in a nationalistic context, “for economic and social reasons.”

According to the original indictment, Kharuf, who was an illegal resident, had been romantically involved with Halimi for a lengthy period. On May 11, 2017, Halimi, who was married, told Kharuf that she was pregnant and her husband was the father. Two weeks later, Kharuf decided to murder her and steal her car. On May 28, he met Halimi in the city of Holon. He took her to an isolated spot where he strangled her, and then struck her with cement blocks to make sure she was dead. He then concealed her body and proceeded to steal her car and her credit card.

Kharuf was arrested shortly thereafter on suspicion of murder, but was released after denying any involvement. He was re-arrested later after the police questioned some residents of the city of Taibeh who knew him. It was then that Kharuf admitted for the first time that he had murdered Halimi for political reasons. However, the police rejected this claim and said he had killed Halimi due to the falling out of their relationship.

Officials involved in the investigation said that Kharuf insisted that he had murdered Halimi for her money and in order to gain sympathy in Palestinian society. However, Halimi’s husband, Aharon Halimi, said from the outset that his wife had been abducted and murdered out of political motivation. Halimi said at the time that the police investigation had been poorly handled.

Mohammed Kharif attending a hearing in a Jerusalem court in August 2017.Credit: Emil salman

The authorities have now accepted Kharuf’s confession that the murder was political. Kharuf’s attorneys, public defenders Elad Rath and Mohammed Mahajna, said that when their client was initially questioned by the police “he admitted to the murder and explained that the background was nationalistic. The law enforcement authorities did not believe him and thought that the motives had to do with the romantic relations between him and the victimfollowing a meeting with the district prosecutor, it was decided to accept the accused’s claim and change the facts in the indictment in keeping with the police version, that the motive was indeed nationalistic.”

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