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Body of Israeli girl murdered 37 years ago exhumed due to new findings in case

On March 20, 1982, Nava Elimelech, then 12, left her house in Bat Yam to go to a friend’s home, but never got there. It was later argued that the motive may have been a terror attack.

A view of the grave of Nava Elimelech, who was murdered in 1982, at the cemetery in Holon, on Aug. 5, 2019. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
A view of the grave of Nava Elimelech, who was murdered in 1982, at the cemetery in Holon, on Aug. 5, 2019. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Police exhumed the body of a young Israeli girl on Sunday who was murdered in 1982, after new findings emerge in the unsolved case.

After obtaining authorization from a court, Nava Elimelech’s body was exhumed, in coordination with her family, and transferred to the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Kabir. Her case contains a prohibition order that does not allow the publication of additional information that might identify the suspects.

On March 20, 1982, Elimelech, then 12, left her house in Bat Yam to go to a friend’s home, but never got there. Family members searched for her, and 10 days after her disappearance, parts of her body were found in the Mediterranean Sea. Her head was first found wrapped in a bag, followed by other bags.

A special investigative team searched for Elimelech’s killer, but police had no leads. In June 1983, they announced that the case had stymied and reached an end.

In 1998, Amos and Yehuda Shelef were arrested as suspects in the case, but released for lack of evidence.

It was later argued that the motive may have been a terror attack. An imprisoned Arab claimed that his cellmate confessed to the murder, but the latter was released and reached Jordan before police investigators caught him. He later died without being investigated.

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