A Palestinian man from Nablus confessed to killing his pregnant lover, a 29-year-old married woman from the settlement of Geva Binyamin (also known as Adam) in the West Bank. The court lifted a gag order on the alleged murder on Wednesday morning.
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The victim, Michal Halimi, disappeared on May 28. Her body was found last week near Holon in central Israel.
The suspect in the murder, Mohammed Kharouf, told reporters on Wednesday outside of Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court that he killed Halimi to help free Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons.
However, officials involved in the investigation believe the motive for the murder was not nationalistic but criminal. The court extended Kharouf's detention through August 6 and he was transferred from the Ofer Prison near Ramallah to a prison in Ramle.
Halimi, who was married to another man, was in far along in her pregnancy when she was murdered. Investigators learned that she had left her home in Geva Binyamin and moved in with Kharouf several months ago. The couple intended to get engaged and posted a large number of photographs of them together on social networking sites.
Kharouf allegedly met with Halimi in the sand dunes near Holon on the day she disappeared, and killed her there. He confessed to the murder under questioning and reenacted it for the police. He confessed to strangling Halimi, hitting her on head with rocks and then burying her body and fleeing.
The police intend on filing an indictment shortly and it is expected to include murder charges along with possession of a weapon, illegally residing in Israel and using a forged document.
A number of residents of the Arab Israeli city of Taibeh who know Kharouf were also arrested for their involvement in the murder. They have supplied the police with information about the couple's relationship and the site of the murder.