Postcard from... Rosh Pina


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The Independent Online

On the door of a bright and spacious farmhouse in Rosh Pina, northern Israel, a death notice is pasted on the door. “Nahman Farkash. Died 5 August 2014”.

Mr Farkash was the Houdini of Israel’s crime scene, a prison escape artist who managed to break out of incarceration a record number of times, to return to a life on the run.

Once a boxing champion in the 1950s, among his more eccentric misdemeanours was the theft of a tiger from a Tel Aviv zoo in the 1970s, which he reportedly raised on the shores of the Dead Sea. Mr Farkash’s stints in prison were always swift. Unfortunately for him, so were his recaptures. Once, escaping from a jail in Jaffa, Mr Farkash bolted south, all the way into the Sinai peninsula – only to be arrested by the Egyptian authorities and placed in a Cairo prison. He was later deported into Israel, only to be arrested again.

He was found dead, aged 78, at the entrance to a cave not far from Rosh Pina.

He may have been a notorious criminal, but to the elderly couple in the Rosh Pina farmhouse, Mr Farkash was a dear friend. It was, of course, no ordinary friendship, they admit smiling, as they recall the persistent drone of police helicopters hovering overhead each time Mr Farkash came round for dinner.