Zenith magazine, an independent German-language magazine focusing on the Arab and Islamic world, has published a piece entitled No Justice For Women Killed in Gaza. Co-written by Huda Baroud, a palestinian Arab journalist, it makes for infuriating reading.
It also makes no mention of Israel, nor blames any of the violence on these women on us.
In the late evening of January 19, 2019, F.M., a young woman, was shot in the head and killed. It was dark when people started to gather in the location where the gunshot had been heard. She lay there, in her niqab. Her father and her brother stood there. According to the accounts we collected in our investigation of the case, the brother was carrying a handgun.
F.M. was one of six women killed in the Gaza Strip in 2019. During the first half of 2020, almost as many women were killed, according to statements by Gaza’s Ministry of Interior. But the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counselling, a Jerusalem-based independent Palestinian non-profit, recorded 12 cases of unnatural deaths of women in Gaza for the same year, ranging from suicide to murder in mysterious circumstances.
F.M.’s father, standing by his daughter’s body, told the neighbours gathered around that her brother had killed her by mistake as he was cleaning his gun. This was the same statement of the police at al-Aqsa Hospital in the central Gaza Strip – but it was far from the reality on the ground.
Police investigations proved that the father’s claims were unfounded, based on crime scene investigation and evidence found by the Criminal Investigation Department. This prompted the victim’s brother to confess that his father had killed his sister, placed the gun in his hand and told everyone that he was the killer. Yet the father obtained a reduced sentence of five years in prison, counting the time he spent in custody as he was awaiting trial. He then lodged an appeal, which was approved by the Public Prosecution.
Premeditated murder is punishable by execution, as stipulated in Article 215 of the Palestinian Code 74 of 1936. So why was the sentence reduced this time? Why did the Public Prosecution approve the appeal?
Upon new evidence and the confession of the brother, the victim’s father began looking for new reasons to be exonerated of his crime. In his confession statement, which we managed to secure a copy of, he claimed that he had killed his daughter to defend the family’s honour, despite the one-year gap between the time he claimed to have found out she was no longer a virgin and the day he murdered her.
In the investigation report, the culprit said, “I had suspicions that my daughter was secretly meeting with a young man under my roof. I took her to a private hospital to have her checked in November 2017. The doctor said she was not a virgin. I promised that I would not kill her, and I tried to correct her behaviour.”
The victim was killed, and forensic medicine confirmed that she was a virgin. With this, the argument of ‘defending the family’s honour’ was evidently refuted. But the other argument still holds true: the victim’s father wanted to “correct her bad behaviour” because she secretly owned a mobile phone, as her mother (M.J.), who divorced her husband years ago, tells us.
Killing on the grounds of defending honour entails that the assailant must be caught red-handed. This is not the case in the killings we have been investigating. Women are being killed based on honour crimes merely by being accused of being in contact with strangers, whether in real life or on social media, according to Ghunaimi: “The law does not target these crimes, because no-one was caught in the very act of wrongdoing.”
In one of the cases we investigated, a father had beaten his daughter to death. According to the investigation report, he changed his statements, saying that she had been calling a young man. He proved his claims and obtained a reduced sentence, as he did not have any previous convictions. He said he had beaten her to correct her behaviour.
This murderer took advantage of the social acceptance of beating women to correct female behaviour. He was released based on tribal reconciliation a few months later.
In 2020, as of the writing of this report, there have been 12 unnatural deaths of women in Gaza. The listed causes range from deliberate killing to falling from a height, suicide, stray bullets and mysterious circumstances, according to our investigation. The total number of women murdered in the Gaza Strip from 2016 through 2020 is 48, according to the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counselling.
Read the entire thing.
Wow, an honest piece that does not infantilize palestinians, and paints them as responsible for their own actions and decisions.
Compare this to other reports about palestinian Arab honor killings, which do attempt to pin the blame on you-know-who. For instance, take this 2014 Al Jizz report:
Zayyan also noted that Gaza is suffering from high unemployment and poverty caused by the ongoing Israeli siege and Egypt’s destruction last summer of tunnels running into the Palestinian strip. Lack of necessities such as fuel, electricity, water, food and not least money are bound to cause friction in Gazan homes, she said.
It is promising to see a report such as this that calls it as it is: there is a sick, violent culture among some palestinian Arabs, and it is largely tolerated.
With people from Gaza (and indeed the PA-controlled areas) doing this to their own, it is no wonder we see people from these places committing also such heinous crimes against Israelis.
Hat tip: Maimon