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Israeli citizen, girlfriend missing in Phillipines

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the incident was "known to and handled by the Israeli Embassy in Manila and the Department for Israelis Abroad."

Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. Photo by Dylan Gonzales/Pixabay.
Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. Photo by Dylan Gonzales/Pixabay.

An Israeli citizen went missing under suspicious circumstances in the Philippines over the weekend, local media reported on Tuesday.

Yitzhak Cohen, 37, and his girlfriend, Geneva Lopez, a contestant in a national beauty pageant in the country, were reportedly last seen on Friday, and authorities located their burned-out car early Saturday.

The local 24 Oras outlet reported that the Bureau of Fire Protection found the charred vehicle on a road in the country’s northern Tarlac province. Lopez’s family confirmed that personal belongings found in the SUV, including an ID card, belonged to the missing beauty queen.

Cohen, who was said to have been living with Lopez in the city of Angeles, north of Manila, was reportedly the last one to drive the car.

“We are backtracking the CCTV footage. And whatever footage we get, we can enhance to see the occupants,” Angeles City police chief Col. Amado Mendoza Jr. told the Filipino news site Rappler on Sunday.

An initial probe indicated that Cohen and Lopez were traveling to Tarlac for a meeting regarding a real estate transaction. Authorities said the people they were supposed to meet were cooperating with police.

In a statement shared with JNS on Tuesday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed that the incident was “known to and handled by the Israeli Embassy in Manila and the Department for Israelis Abroad.

“The Israeli consul in the Philippines is handling the matter with the local authorities, and the Department for Israelis Abroad is in contact with the family,” added the statement from Jerusalem.

In July of last year, an Israeli citizen was abducted by an Ethiopian criminal gang near the country’s northwestern border. Ethiopian special forces were able to liberate Francis Adbabayi, 79, from Rishon Lezion, following a “pursuit and shootout” after some three weeks in captivity.

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