The Happy Arab News Service

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hard Headed Woman

Last updated: March 16, 2008

March 12, 2008

A 24 year old Israeli Arab from the village of Na'ura, near Afula, was put into police custody after he'd called emergency services and politely informed the paramedics: "I just shot my sister."

According to police, the attack had been carefully planned over a long period, and the suspect had informed his family of his murderous intentions. Family members who knew of the plot and cooperated with the suspect will also be arrested and charged in the near future, Afula police chief Dep.-Cmdr. Orly Malka told The Jerusalem Post.

"He simply stole a gun, fired a number of shots, kicked her, and stopped when he thought she was dead," Malka said. She added that her district had seen no major changes in the number of attacks against women among Arab families. "There has been a constant which hasn't changed in 100 years," Malka said.

The suspect later claimed that despite her young age his 19 year old sister had already had a long and rich history of violating the family's honor. According to the JPost, the young man "was warmly praised by some members of his family".

However, despite the young man's careful planning of the attack over a long period, he had clearly underestimated how hard headed his sister was. According to the JPost, the woman has survived the attempted honor killing "after two bullets fired at her head shattered on impact, failing to penetrate her skull (!!! NB)". It goes without saying that were this woman Jewish, she would have been dead by now.

Israeli Arabs are known for brothers occasionally driving cars over bodies of their sisters during honor killings to ensure fatal outcome. Ordinary Israelis usually tend to dismiss this strange custom as another example of their Arab neighbors paranoiac mindset. Yet the story of a woman shattering bullets with her head like one of the characters of the Matrix trilogy presents this strategy in a very different light.

Anyway, now the family may have to pay for the young man's failure to stick to the time honored tradition and methods polished over generations. Family honor is a tricky business but its first principle is that publicity is much worse than the actual thing. So if you are going to kill somebody to enhance your family's honor, you should better make sure that the person dies. Otherwise you may have to spend decades trying to hunt down somebody who is under police protection. And of course the fact that a 19 year old girl first survives your bullets and then goes away sheltered by the state makes you an object of all sorts of jokes and speculations on the part of your neighbors, precisely the thing you wanted to avoid in the first place.

There may be several reasons why the suspect has failed to finish the job. But the most plausible one is that at a certain point the brother had simply despaired to see his sister ever die at all. According to police, the suspect has arrived to the place of the attempted murder in a car of his younger brother who apparently cooperated with him. However, instead of running the car over his sister, the young man just kept kicking her body all over until he eventually got tired and called the paramedics. One can easily imagine the frustration of a brother who, having thrown away his useless gun, keeps kicking his sister shouting: "Start dying you fucking bitch." In short, when the time to run a car over his sister has arrived, the young man might have already lost all hope that a car can succeed where bullets failed. The bottom line is that honor killings are an art. They are not for amateurs.

Also interesting is the reaction of Nurit Kaufmann, director of Violence Against Women at WIZO, which runs the National Hot Line for Battered Women and Children at Risk in partnership with the Social Affairs Ministry. Kaufmann seems to have been completely unmoved by the police claims that there was no major change in the number of attacks against women among Arab families in the area.

Kaufmann said that regarding honor killings specifically, much progress had been made in the Arab community to raise awareness of the phenomenon, but that this murder highlighted there was still much work to be done.


One can only hope that in the age of the internet and satellite TV the awareness of this phenomena in the Arab community is indeed rising. However, the exuberant enthusiasm displayed by some members of the family for the actions of the young man makes one think that it's not necessarily awareness or the lack of it that's the problem.

March 16, 2008

A peculiar detail of the last shooting is that it happened just a week after an Israeli court sentenced to 16 years in prison a member of an Israeli Arab clan that has made honor killings its specialty. The sister of the convicted was the last of the nine women of the clan killed by their relatives in the last years.

A Tel Aviv court has sentenced an Israeli Arab man to 16 years in prison for involvement in the murder of his sister in an "honor killing," after several female relatives took the rare step of testifying against him, according to court documents.

Hamda Abu Ghanem was the ninth woman killed in the clan in recent years by men in the family. She was shot in January last year as she slept at her parents' home in a Muslim neighborhood of Ramle, a mixed Jewish-Arab town of 65,000 in central Israel.

. . .

The clan is well known in Ramle. One cousin, Reem, was drugged by a brother and thrown in a well after refusing to marry the man her family chose, relatives said.

Reem's mother, Nayfa, was stabbed to death. Another woman slipped in the bathroom and died of her injuries. Others were gunned down or stabbed to death.

. . .



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