Belfast Telegraph

Items found as Israel search for Northern Ireland man Oliver McAfee

Oliver McAfee disappeared while cycling through the Negev Desert
Oliver McAfee disappeared while cycling through the Negev Desert

The family of a Co Down man who has been missing in Israel for two years have said items have been found that may be linked to his disappearance.

Oliver McAfee (30), from Dromore, was last seen in November 2017 near the desert town of Mitzpah Ramon.

He had been in the country on a cycling trip and planned to stay for five weeks to explore the Holy Land, as he is a devout Christian.

Oliver was due to return home in December, however his return date came and went and his family became increasingly concerned as time went on.

Despite an extensive media campaign and searches by Israeli authorities, he has not been heard from since.

A Facebook page set up by friends and family of the Co Down man has been posting updates on the search.

In a post last week, Oliver's sister-in-law Angela said the family's hopes were raised in August when she was sent images of a person that, although taken from a distance, they agreed it was the "closest resemblance [to Oliver] that we have seen yet".

"We were advised that it wasn't likely to be Oliver as the individual had been there for around three years, but we figured it has been nearly two years since Oliver disappeared and just maybe," Angela said.

"But unfortunately not. We were updated a few weeks later that the person was not Oliver."

The family has also been informed that CCTV footage of a man near an army base at the time of Oliver's disappearance is now thought to be Oliver.

"In addition to this, another search (and quite possibly the last physical search) was carried out only a few weeks ago," Angela said.

"I have been informed that some items were found and have been taken for examination. I do not know what items were found or if they are Oliver's items.

"Unfortunately, this still doesn't answer any questions we have about what has happened or where he is; in fact, in some ways it even raises more questions. But we continue to hope that answers will come."

Following Oliver's disappearance, search teams found his wallet, keys and bike, however his passport has never been recovered.

The family have also rejected speculation that Oliver could have been suffering from so-called "Jerusalem syndrome", a condition where people visiting the city experience psychotic religious delusions.

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