A Palestinian man has reportedly confessed to murdering his 29-year-old Israeli Jewish girlfriend in an effort to "release Palestinian prisoners."
Police found the body of Michal Halimi on July 24 after she went missing in May, reports The Jerusalem Post. She had been choked and her head was smashed in by rocks.
According to officers, Michal, who was pregnant and married to an Israeli man, "voluntarily" left her home in Binyamin, on the West Bank of Israel, to live with a Palestinian man named Muhammad Harouf, whom "she was in a relationship with," they said.
"Based on preliminary findings, including images and posts the two shared on Facebook, they intended to become engaged," said police, according to the Jerusalem Post. "As the investigation unfolded, the suspect was arrested and in the first stage of his interrogation contradictions arose regarding the whereabouts of the missing person, a fact that raised the suspicion of his involvement in her absence."
Harouf then reportedly confessed to killing her and said that he strangled and stoned her and then "covered her body and left the scene in her car in order to 'release Palestinian prisoners,'" recounted police. He also confirmed that the two were in a romantic relationship before her death.
According to YNet News, Harouf later said in court that the murder was not connected to any romance between the two and kicked guards while shouting: "I'll kill all the Jews!"
Those familiar with Michal and her situation have shared conflicting accounts of the events leading up to her murder.
"The police presented a version and we reject it," said the victim's husband, Aaron Halimi. "We still haven't buried [my] wife, but after we do and after we sit Shiva, we will respond and sue ... the police. The truth will come to light. It is important that justice comes to light."
Aaron said that he and his wife had a "very good" relationship as they happily awaited the birth of their baby and that Michal met her end due to "a nationalistic issue and not a romance."
Meanwhile, some family members said that Harouf killed her after they reconnected and she told him that she wanted to leave him and go back to her husband.
"They got to know each other at the age of 17 through social networks and over time their connection dwindled out," said Aaron's ex-wife, Ravid Boyar. "Half a year ago they reestablished their connection and the moment Michal disappeared we suspected that if something had happened to her, only [Harouf] could have harmed her and we went straight to the police."