‘No one knows why my sister was killed. Maybe she heard something or saw something she wasn’t supposed to see, and somebody wanted to shut her up.’ Fatimah Sha’aban is sitting in the unfinished living room of her house in Dahamesh, an enclave at the edge of Lod where she says “all my neighbors have guns.
They shoot them off all night – at weddings, for target practice, to try out before they buy them.”
Sha’aban, 53, wearing a white head scarf and long black robe, is a
sister of Fatimah Abu Khatifan, 33, who was shot to death in her home
last month by a masked man in another of Lod’s most violent
neighborhoods, Pardess Snir. Her husband and a couple of other male
relatives were arrested and soon released, but Sha’aban says everyone
knows they’re innocent. “The husband was crying, poor guy, he loved my
sister,” she says.
Honor killings, as a rule, are carried out by the victim’s blood relatives – members of her extended family, or hamula.
The victim’s whole family was enraged when police, less than an hour
after the body was discovered, declared it an honor killing.
“It brings disgrace on the family. The woman’s daughters can never hope
to be married – they’re marked as the daughters of an adulteress. Even
the sons will find it hard to find wives,” says Sha’aban, noting that
her sister had two sons and two daughters.
“My sister was a good woman who cleaned houses every day so she could feed her children. That’s all she cared about,” says Sha’aban. “Her children have nothing to be ashamed of about their mother.”
By arbitrarily calling Abu Khatifan’s death an honor killing, police
stigmatized her children for life. Meanwhile, the killer, whoever and
wherever he is, doesn’t have to answer to anyone.