Search for missing backpacker suspended


New Zealand police have suspended the search for an Israeli backpacker who has been missing for a month.

Liat Tas-Okin, 35, was last seen March 26 hiking on the 24-mile Routeburn Track on the scenic South Island.

Her brother, Itamar Tas, said a private search led by renowned Israeli search and rescuer Hilik Magnus would begin Wednesday. Local mountain guides and rangers have been co-opted to join the team.

“We still hope to find her alive and healthy,” Itamar Tas told New Zealand Radio.

A charitable fund has been established to help support the search for the Israeli psychologist, whose family lives on a moshav just 50 yards from the Gaza Strip.

Since April 10, a crew of about 15 has been searching for Tas-Okin on land and in the air. Bad weather in the last week hampered the search in the dense mountainous region.

Sgt. Steve Hutt said police will continue to assess the situation, but have suspended the search until they receive new information. He does not suspect foul play.

Two Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis from nearby Canterbury flew into Queenstown last week and hosted a seder service on April 19 in honor of the missing Israeli.

Recommended from JTA