‘Happiest Day of My Life,’ Says Sister of Brutally Slain Yeshiva Student, After Palestinian Perpetrator Found Dead in Bulgaria
With news emerging of the death of 51-year-old Palestinian terrorist Omar Nayef Zayed in Bulgaria, a close family member of one of his victims expressed relief in an interview with the Hebrew news site Walla on Friday.
“It’s the happiest day of my life,” said Yaffa Pinchasi, the sister of 22-year-old yeshiva student Eliyahu Amedi, who was stabbed to death in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1986 by Zayed and two other Palestinians.
“I wouldn’t want him to be in prison, with all the amenable conditions in there,” she added.
In the wake of rumors that Zayed – whose body was found in the yard of the Palestinian Embassy in Sofia – was assassinated by Israel’s Mossad (though Bulgarian radio, according to the Times of Israel, reported he had fallen out of a fourth-floor window), Pinchasi said, “I’m glad he was annihilated and that his wife was left widowed with three children.”
His assassination — if it was that — “makes up for all those years that he was roaming free,” Pinchasi told Walla, referring to the fact that Zayed had been on the run, after escaping Israel in 1990, four years after being sentenced to life in prison. Zayed managed to elude his guards, while receiving medical treatment at an Israeli hospital.
A member of the terrorist organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Zayed lived in various Arab countries, according to Walla, until settling in Bulgaria, where he received permanent resident status, married a native Bulgarian and — until his death on Friday — managed a bakery in Sofia.
“It’s sad that a killer was roaming freely all these years. It is frightening and frustrating, but all’s well that ends well. It gives us comfort. We have closure,” Pinchasi said. “It’s a message to everyone not to give up hope. Everything is done to locate those murderers. I was afraid he would run away from Bulgaria. He must have been in [someone’s] crosshairs,” she said, hinting that Israel had been working on eliminating the terrorist.
An Israeli official told Walla, however, “We had no connection to the incident.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry echoed the denial: “Israel did indeed request the extradition of Zayed, who was an escaped convict, but we learned of the news of his death through the media and are studying the details.”
Al Jazeera reported that just over two months ago, on December 15, the Israeli Embassy requested that the Bulgarian government extradite Zayed. According to the report, the Bulgarian police gave him 72 hours to leave the country, but he holed up in the Palestinian Embassy in Sofia, refusing to leave.
The Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry released a statement that an investigation was opened to determine the circumstances surrounding Zayed’s “murder,” which PA President Mahmoud Abbas strongly condemned as a “heinous crime.”
Zayed’s lawyer recently stated that the request for extradition was politically motivated, and that his client’s confessing to the murder of the yeshiva student had been obtained through torture.
Zayed’s death came a day after visiting Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.