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Israeli police find body of missing internationally-renowned Palestinian dancer Open in fullscreen

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Israeli police find body of missing internationally-renowned Palestinian dancer

Ayman Safiah was widely regarded as the first Palestinian male ballet dancer [Facebook]

Date of publication: 28 May, 2020

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Israeli police found the body of a renowned Palestinian dancer days after he went missing at sea.
Israeli police on Wednesday found the body of a renowned Palestinian dancer near the beach where he had gone missing on Sunday, according to Israeli media.

Ayman Safiah, 29, was a distinguished dance performer and teacher from the Arab town of Kafr Yasif. Safiah is widely regarded as the first Palestinian male ballet dancer, having attracted international praise for his boundary-breaking talent.

Safiah went missing on Sunday morning at a beach in the northern Israeli town of Atlit, media reports stated. After a female friend found herself in trouble in the water, Safiah entered the sea to help her. The woman managed to reach the shore, but Safiah never re-emerged.

Israeli police said they used all their capabilities to conduct an extensive search for Safiah. However, the dancer's family and a member of Israel's Arab Joint List party said authorities have said not done enough to find him, which the police vehemently denied.

A social media campaign to help find Safiah was launched, and multiple volunteers went looking for the dancer. Police have fined some volunteer searchers, according to news reports.

Safiah's body was spotted by a police helicopter near Atlit's beach on Wednesday, according to Israeli media.

Tributes to Safiah poured in on social media, with Joint List head Ayman Odeh calling his death a "terrible loss".

Nicknamed the "Arab Billy Elliot", Safiah began dancing professionally since he was 16 years old. He has spoken of the difficulties he faced for pursuing his love for dancing and being openly gay.

Upon receiving a grant to study abroad, Safiah attended London's prestigious Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. He performed in troupes around Europe, including an appearance in the musical Cats on London's West End.

Safiah eventually returned to Israel, where he performed and taught dance.

On the day prior to his disappearance, Safiah posted a video of him swaying gracefully in a kitchen captioned "#keepdancing".

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