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The Sydney Morning Herald from Sydney, New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia • Page 25
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The Sydney Morning Herald from Sydney, New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia • Page 25

Sydney, New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia
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fl yU -J Peter Ceberano Pockley a friends Frank Walker Bill Clinton's week of hope 33 Democrat vision for a fair go 27 Barner Reef in Seville 1 Lai. A Yoim net! rr 1 I Ml ii Hi ON THE TRAIL: Sen Const Jeff Emery and Sgt Peter Marcon of the Police Missing Persons Unit. i mm -a. -J "A Howard Israel seemingly had everything to live for. He had a high-profile, high-paying job, two properties, was in love with his long-time girlfriend and enjoyed close and caring relationships with family and friends.

But just over a month ago the 28-year-old former Sydney Grammar School prefect disappeared in mysterious circumstances. BRETT THOMAS and MATT CONDON report. ON the night of June II. Macquarie Bank bullion dealer Howard Israel shared a cosy dinner with his girlfriend Gina Clapin, close friend Gavin Isaacs and Mr Isaacs's fiancee, at the trendy inner-Sydney cafe, Bill and Toni's. According to Mr Isaacs, 28 a friend of Israel's since childhood the dinner was a "friendly, chitchat" affair.

It was an important night for Israel. It was the first time he and Gina had been out with Mr Isaacs since the couple had reunited after a 14-month split. And it was only hours before Israel was due to see a psychiatrist about recurring bouts of serious depression. "We thought he'd got a bit better. We thought he'd picked up a bit and so did Gina," Mr Isaacs recalled.

"The week before he had been very depressed, not really contented. "I thought his spirits were up. And he seemed to have improved his state of mind from hat it had been in the previous few weeks." Another close friend, 27-year-old Greg Warhaftig, also saw Israel on that fateful night. They were workmates at Macquarie Bank, and Mr Warhaftig spotted Israel driving home in his old Volkswagen. The pair stopped and chatted briefly.

I wound down the car window and spoke to him for a few minutes," Mr Warhaftig said. "I asked him if he was going to work the next day and he replied 'I don't think so'." That was the last time any of Howard Israel's close friends or family saw him. DESPITE numerous personal inquiries, and a major investigation by the NSW Police Missing Persons Unit over the past month, Israel's whereabouts remain unknown. And as each day passes fears for his life increase. What is known is that Israel's mind was in an unstable state and had been for some time.

Israel's psychiatric appointment, the day following the dinner at Bill and Toni's cafe, didn't go well. His mother Suzie told The Sun-Herald it was recommended that her son be immediately admitted to the Wolper Jewish Hospital in salubrious Woolluhra "for a But within hours of being admitted on the morning of June 12 Israel checked himself out. His mother, a well-known eastern He attended the exclusive Sydney Grammar School -where he was made a school prefect and captain of the tennis team before going on to NSW University to study CommerceLaw. A high-school friend, journalist Scott Hewlett, recalled the legendary Fourth XV rugby team of w.hich Israel was halfback and captain. "He was loud and very gregarious," Mr Hewlett said.

"1 don't remember the team winning one game, because Grammar wasn't known for its rugby skills. I think the Fourths might have had one draw." After graduating from university Israel went on to work at Macquarie Bank, where he rose to the high-profile position of manager in the bullion division. Mr Allan Moss, deputy managing director of the bank, said Israel had joined as a trainee and subsequently excelled in the bullion division. "He was a very respected dealer," Mr Moss said. "He was also very ell liked." Israel's friends spoke of his extraordinary zest for life, and generosity to all those he met.

"He was the friendliest, most open guy you'd ever come across." said Greg Warhaftig. "I lived with Howie for about six months at the beginning of the year, and we've travelled overseas together. "We virtually grew up together. You'd never come across a guy who could make friends so easily. "He'd meet someone in the street and.

the next thing, he'd invite them to his place for dinner." Even police who've been investigating the case have remarked how popular and well-liked Israel was. "He seems to be a very caring sort of fellow." said Sen Const Emery. "He's a real giver. If someone needs money or anything else, he'll give, give, give. "If the person was genuine.

Mr Israel would certainly help them out. "He was always worrying about other people maybe he was worrying too much." ISRAEL'S friends and family, as well as the police, all agree there were three major factors contributing to his unstable condition. On February 22, Israel fulfilled a life-long dream to own a home by the ocean. CONTINUED PAGE 29 HOWARD ISRAEL: "My mind has snapped," he told his mother. said Senior Constable Jeff Emery of the Missing Persons Unit.

"He's just vanished." However, Mrs Suzie Israel revealed that her son had left a hand-written note in his apartment. According to Mrs Israel, the note stated that Israel no longer wanted to be a "burden" on the family. "I think a few things failed, and he couldn't accept failures any more." she said. "I think life is a razor's edge and the more sensitive and caring you are. the more painful it is.

"I couldn't begin to tell you of all his friends. And he looked after everybody. "He had friends who were poets, writers, millionaires." THE picture painted of Howard Israel by his family and friends is that of a successful, out-going, popular and generous young man. Howard's best friend, Gavin Isaacs, recalled similar conversations: "Howie was losing touch with reality as such. "He said to me that something had snapped inside his mind.

He kept saying that. "When the psychiatrist talked to him, and said you've got to go into hospital, he probably took that as an affirmation that something had snapped in his head. "He probably thought it meant institution for the rest of his life. And he wasn't the type of person who would put his family and friends through hardship." POLICE confirm Israel has vanished without trace with only the clothes he was wearing and S50 in his pocket He even left credit cards behind in his luxury Tamarama apartment, as well as his car. "It's a mystery disappearance," suburbs identity, was overseas with her husband at the time.

Mrs Israel recalls receiving a distressing telephone call from her son before his appointment, telling her he had She said she would return to Australia as soon as possible. But he told her to stay overseas and "look after Israel's friends also recall subtle warnings that something may have been about to go wrong. "He was very depressed. He was withdrawing more and more, and it was becoming difficult to talk to him you couldn't talk to him," said Mr Warhaftig. "He kept on saying things like 'my mind has snapped' and 'you don't understand'.

"Maybe he felt embarrassed by things like mental illness. Maybe it had a strange effect, when the doctor said he should go into hospital." THE SUN-HERALD, July 19, 1992 25.

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