Young Mother Missing for Days Is Still Alive, Israeli Police Believe, as Search Continues

Police arrest ex-partner in connection to the disappearance of Sapir Nahum, 24, from the northern Israeli town of Acre

Adi Hashmonai
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Police search for Sapir Nahum in northern Israel, on Sunday.
Police search for Sapir Nahum in northern Israel, on Sunday.Credit: Israel Police Spokesperson
Adi Hashmonai

A 34-year-old Acre resident was arrested Friday, a day after his former partner was reported missing, as police continue their expansive search for the 24-year-old woman.

The commander of Acre's police precinct, Nir Jamber, said on Monday that their working assumption is that Sapir Nahum is still alive and that they are "leaving no stone unturned" in the search.

Nahum was last seen Thursday morning, getting into the car of the suspect – the father of her two children – outside their daughter’s kindergarten.

Sapir Nahum.Credit: Israel Police Spokesperson

Police said a number of leads were being followed, including the possibility that Nahum was abducted. The search for Nahum is focused in northern Israel in general and the area east of Kiryat Ata in particular. On Saturday the communities of Ibtin, Shfaram and Rekhesim, as well as the Haifa-area Tel Regev cemetery were combed for signs of the missing woman.

A custody hearing for the suspect, whose name has been withheld from publication, was scheduled for Sunday evening in the Haifa Magistrate’s Court. Police said he has been arrested in the past for violence and vandalism.

“Thursday morning [Sapir] took her daughter to kindergarten and never returned,” Nahum’s sister, Eden, told Haaretz. “At 11 A.M. [the suspect] sent her a WhatsApp message: ‘Good morning, sweetie.’ It seems very odd to me that while he was with her, or shortly after, he suddenly sent her such a message,” Eden added. “They didn’t tell me if someone else was in the car, but they saw him leave the city [Thursday evening] in the direction of work and they didn’t see that Sapir was with him.”

Eden said she called the suspect at 5 P.M. on Thursday and asked if Sapir was with him, and that he replied that she wasn’t. “The entire night he didn’t send [Sapir] any messages – ‘Where are you, is everything OK, what’s going on?’” Eden continued, adding that when she spoke with him that night he was angry that his mother had been taken in for questioning, more than he was disturbed by Nahum’s disappearance.

Relatives of Nahum said they didn’t know whether the suspect had ever been violent with her, but they did know that they argued about him not paying child support regularly. One family member said the suspect cut off contact with Nahum about six months ago, after she sued him for child support, before resuming contact about a week ago.

“At 8 A.M. Friday I called him and he said he was at his lawyer’s in Kafr Yasif,” an Arab town near Acre,” Eden said. “I fear that Sapir is no longer alive.”

The suspect's attorney, Aviad Hayat, said his client denies any involvement in Nahum's disappearance and that he is cooperating with the investigation.

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