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Who Killed Tair Rada? Inside Israel’s True Crime Obsession


She grew up in a “difficult home,” as she put it. Her parents met as art students in Odessa, Ukraine. When Kravchenko was 3 and her sister 5, they lost each their grandfather and father to murder in a couple of short months. Their grandfather, a high-ranking commander within the Soviet military, was temperamental and belligerent and possibly mentally ailing, Kravchenko said. He was killed when an assailant strangled him and torched his house. Ola’s mother, Tania, was suspected within the arson and spent almost a yr in Soviet detention. (In line with Tania, his body was exhumed, and recent evidence cleared her of the murder.) Shortly after, Ola’s father’s body was found, hanging from a tree in a forest. He had been a penniless artist in St. Petersburg, “extraordinarily talented” and “hypersensitive,” in keeping with Tania. Nobody knows how he died, though friends of his later told her that that they had seen two men chasing him within the woods. Ola’s family moved in with Tania’s mother. 4 years later, they immigrated to Israel, settling in Katzrin.

Kravchenko found it hard to slot in. She worked on shedding her accent and avoided the kids of other Russian or Ukrainian immigrants, who make up a couple of third of Katzrin’s population. She often wandered out of sophistication, disappearing into nature. The varsity repeatedly called her mother to return find her. She distinctly recalls the primary time she heard voices. She was 17 and driving home together with her mother. “She began saying all these unpleasant things about me: that she didn’t wish to drive me home, that she was uninterested in caring for me, that I used to be all the time nagging.” But when Kravchenko looked over at her mother, “her mouth wasn’t moving.” Soon the voices became quite a few and frequent, disguised because the voices of individuals Kravchenko knew well. “They were all the time critical of me, all the time nasty,” she said. “There was no telling them other than real voices.”

Around the identical time, Kravchenko’s mother suggested she try meditation, and he or she began attending classes led by a charismatic Chilean-born guru named David Har-Zion. Kravchenko fell under his spell. After several months, she moved in with a gaggle of his followers. She slept on a yoga mat with dozens of individuals in a big hall. Members were forbidden to form relationships with the surface world and were required to give up their personal possessions to the group. For 3 years, she lived in “virtual enslavement,” she said. Har-Zion later fled the country, and Kravchenko found herself abruptly unmoored and alone. “I had no life skills in any respect,” she said.

When she was 20, she met Habany on the streets of Tel Aviv. She was raising donations for Har-Zion’s group at an area market, and he helped his father run a clothing stall there. They began to take long walks on the beach together, smoking marijuana and talking about their pasts. He was 19, bookish and opinionated, and he impressed her along with his knowledge of Hebrew literature. He confided in her that at 17 he was committed at a psychiatric institution outside Tel Aviv. (The court later indicated that this was for conduct disorder.) Somewhat than alarm her, this “only pulled me closer,” she told me. Inside six months, she moved in with him. “I used to be totally his,” she said.

There had been warning signs, but Kravchenko selected to disregard them. “The sex was violent, but I used to be drawn to it.” By 2005, Kravchenko felt increasingly isolated. Returning home from work one evening, she began talking with a gaggle of young individuals who frequented a public square. They offered her vodka. The following thing she recalls, she woke up naked in her apartment, her body aching, with Habany screaming at her: “What is that this? What did you do?” Kravchenko doesn’t know the one who raped her or remember much about that evening — “I even have flashes of the guy,” she told me — but when Habany saw her, he kicked her in the top and stomach, dragged her into the bath and urinated on her. Habany later told investigators that he “peed on her,” because he “felt prefer it.” An investigator drilled into this: “Your partner, your lover … was raped in keeping with you by one other man, and also you peed on her?” Habany told him, “It’s my personal business — not yours.”

After that night, Kravchenko said, Habany became obsessed together with her whereabouts. He didn’t allow her to socialize or exit without him to anyplace except work. “I didn’t realize that I used to be being abused,” she told me. “I still desired to marry him, have children with him.” In 2006, they ran out of cash to pay rent and had to maneuver in with Kravchenko’s mother, in Katzrin. Tania was concerned about how Habany treated Kravchenko and tried to warn her daughter. But by then, Kravchenko had lost her sense of self. In a sketchbook from that point, she drew a lady warrior with a sword entering her private parts. “I even bought myself a dog collar,” she said.

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