Fears grow­ing for Is­raeli miss­ing in New Zealand

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY DAN GOLD­BERG

FEARS ARE es­ca­lat­ing for the life of an Is­raeli back­packer miss­ing in New Zealand for the last three weeks.

Liat Okin, 35, was last spot­ted walk­ing alone on March 26 on the 35km Route­burn Track, a three-day trek near Queen­stown on the South Is­land.

The alarm was raised when she failed to col­lect her pass­port, money and be­long­ings from a friend’s place or to call her par­ents.

Her brother, Itamar, and Hi­lik Mag­nus, one of Is­rael’s most renowned search-and-res­cue per­son­nel, ar­rived in New Zealand over the week­end to aid the res­cue mis­sion.

But ef­forts by about 15 searchers on land and in the air were sus­pended on Mon­day due to bad weather.

Men­del Gold­stein and Oren Raz, two Chabad-Lubav­itch rab­bis from nearby Can­ter­bury, and the Is­raeli con­sul from the near­est em­bassy — in Can­berra, Aus­tralia — flew in to aid the res­cue ef­forts last week.

Rabbi Gold­stein told the JC: “We will be here un­til we find her. My wife and two kids are fly­ing i n to spend Pe­sach here with Liat and her brother. Even yes­ter­day, the search con­tin­ued de­spite the weather. Her brother is very, very op­ti­mistic.”

Itamar told lo­cal me­dia he was con­fi­dent his sis­ter could still be alive.

“It is so stress­ful for my par­ents but we’re all try­ing to be pos­i­tive be­cause we’re be­liev­ing she’s fine, we’re wor­ried of course that she’s not in the best con­di­tion, but we’re all be­liev­ing we’re go­ing to see her again.”

The fam­ily is from Moshav Ne­tiv Asara, which is 50 me­tres from Gaza. “My fam­ily is also get­ting Kas­sam rock­ets from Gaza. Af­ter the with­drawal from Gaza [in 2005], we are now the front line,” he added.

Mr Mag­nus, who left a res­cue mis­sion in In­dia to help the search for Okin, added: “We will go and find out as much as we can.

In 1987, two Is­raelis were be­lieved to have died on the Route­burn Track, but Udi and Nitzan Milo sur­vived for five nights on a nar­row ledge af­ter they fell.

How­ever, an English­man died on the trek in 2006.

Miss­ing: Liat Okin

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