Alleged ‘Honor Killing’ of Young Palestinian Woman Sparks International Outrage
#WeAreAllIsraa trended on social media as activists mourned and expressed outrage over the murder and alleged honor killing of a 21-year-old Palestinian woman.
Israa Ghrayeb, a 21-year-old Palestinian woman from the West Bank town of Beit Sahour, was allegedly killed by family members in a so-called “honor killing” – a phenomenon that occurs in Arab-Islamic communities typically whereby a female family is killed for having brought perceived “dishonor” on a family. Ghrayeb’s family was allegedly enraged after she shared a video to social media of herself together with her fiancé before their actual wedding day.
The fatal death of Ghrayeb remains under investigation by Palestinian prosecution bodies and medical institutions, and has sparked international outcry and outrage on social media where supporters shared Ghrayeb’s story using the hashtag #WeAreAllIsraa.
Family Denies Honor Killing
According to an early investigation by Palestinian concerned bodies including right groups and prosecutors, Ghrayeb was pronounced dead on August 22. Her death came days after she was admitted to a local hospital in nearby Bethlehem city for treatment of spinal fractures believed to be caused by severe beatings from her own family members, including her father and brothers.
The family of Ghrayeb denied the accusations and instead claimed that Ghrayeb suffered from psychological disorders before she threw herself off a second-floor balcony on August 9th and was then admitted to the hospital.
An audio recording taken while Ghrayeb was in the hospital that went viral on social media was recorded by a nurse at the hospital and shared to social media by a friend of Ghrayeb. In the video, Ghrayeb can allegedly be heard screaming, “Police! Where’s the Police!” while sounds of someone beating her are in the background, though Citizen Truth could not independently confirm the video.
While circumstances around Ghrayeb’s death are unclear, allegedly Ghrayeb died at home days after her family withdrew her from hospital care.
Quds News Network (QNN) reported that her family released a statement claiming the young woman died of a stroke at home, ultimately succumbing to her injuries.
“Due to the turbulent behavior by Israa’, it was necessary to get her out of the hospital on family responsibility and complete her treatment at home, but it didn’t take her much time until she died from a stroke. Her body has been transferred to the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Dis for autopsy, and we’re waiting for the medical report to be issued by the official authorities,” the statement said.
In a Facebook Live statement, Ghrayeb’s brother-in-law denied all accusations of the family beating the young woman, claiming that she died from a heart attack and that the screams in the hospital video were because Ghrayeb was possessed by a “devil spirit.”
Rights Groups Decry Ghrayeb’s Murder
Local rights groups and women organizations have decried what they described the “shameful killing” of Ghrayeb and demanded justice for her.
Adalah Justice Project, a Palestinian Human Rights organization, told QNN they were “outraged and saddened” by Israa’s “heinous killing”, and called for an investigation into her alleged murder.
“Israa was murdered by members of her family after she posted a selfie video of an outing with her fiancé. The crime is being called an ‘honor’ killing, but this is misleading and false. There is no honor in murder,” the group said in a statement.
According to Israel Hayom, hundreds of Palestinian women protested outside the office of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in Ramallah on Monday, demanding an investigation into Ghrayeb’s death.
Many social media activists and celebrities inside and outside of the Palestinian territories, including artists, writers and movie stars took part in the hashtag #WeAreAllIsraa.
Among those who posted on social media in support of Israa, were Elisa and Nancy Ajram, famous Lebanese singers, as well as the well-known Egyptian comedian movie star, Mohammad Henaindy.
Palestinian Government Response
The Palestinian government in the West Bank city of Ramallah said it ordered a thorough investigation into Ghrayeb’s death and that they are now waiting for results of a forensic examination.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayieh told a cabinet meeting this week that a number of people have been summoned for interrogation and that the issue has now become public.
Al Jazeera quoted Palestinian Minister of Women Affairs Amal Hamad as saying that soon the government would set up a comprehensive system to tackle the issue of domestic violence against women.
According to the Palestinian NGO Forum Against Violence Against Women, 19 Palestinian women have been killed in 2019 due to domestic violence or femicide.