Palestinians protest in Bethlehem after alleged 'honor killing' of 21-year-old woman

Israa's father allegedly ordered her brother to beat her after relatives witnessed the footage online.

Funeral scene - descriptive (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Funeral scene - descriptive
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Activists worldwide are calling for retribution for Israa Ghrayeb, a 21-year-old Palestinian woman from Bethlehem who was murdered last Thursday in an alleged honor killing committed by her brother, according to multiple Arab news outlets.
Israa’s brother, Ihab, a Canadian resident, allegedly beat and tortured her in their family home in Bethlehem after she posted a video on social media with a man she was planning to marry.
Ihab was apparently exasperated by the video, claiming the post “dishonored” the family by presenting herself with her soon-to-be husband before the actual wedding.
Israa’s father allegedly ordered her brother to beat her after relatives witnessed the footage online.
During the scuffle with her brother, Israa attempted to escape the violence and fell out of the second floor of their house, causing serious spinal injuries, according to various reports.
Without alluding to exactly what happened, Israa posted on her Instagram account that she would be unable to work for the next two months as she awaited a spinal chord operation.
“I’m strong and I have the will to live if I didn’t have this willpower, I would have died yesterday,” Israa said. “Don’t send me messages telling me to be strong, I am strong. May God be the judge of those who oppressed me and hurt me.”
While in hospital, Israa was allegedly assaulted a second time, with footage appearing on social media of her screaming and begging for her life during the attack.
Details surrounding her actual cause of death are ambiguous, with Israa’s family denying the accusations, claiming that she died from a heart attack. The Palestinian Authority has not officially commented on the alleged killing either.
“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 Palestinian NGO Adalah Justice Project said in an official statement.
Friends and supporters claim that she was beaten to death by her relatives; some social media accounts claim that she died at home after being assaulted in the hospital.
“After I heard what happened to Israa, I was terrified,” said Qamar al-Masri, who went to high school with the victim, according to the Middle East Eye. “I live with my family and I have my freedom to go wherever I want. But what if someone started to spread rumors about me? Will that lead to my death, too?”
Social media users, including Arab celebrities, have reacted with disgust, solidarity and grief for Israa, starting the Arabic hashtag #WeAreAllIsraa, which emerged five days ago and continues to be trending online. Many also called on the Canadian government to arrest the brother for her murder.
Palestinians in the West Bank have expressed outrage as well, with a protest in Bethlehem’s Manger Square calling for the criminalization of these acts and for the issue to be brought to the forefront in order to bring about change.
According to her supporters, Israa followed “social protocol.” She was engaged to her fiancé with the permission of her parents, was accompanied by a chaperone for all of their meetings and also wore a hijab regularly.
“As a survivor of an honor killing, Israa’s story triggered a deeply embedded fear of mine,” blogger Fadumo Adan told The New Arab.
“We live in a world where honor killing happens every single day. We experience scrutiny, close monitoring and violation of privacy and boundaries. Muslim women are now gaining control over their financial, economic, legal and reproductive decision-making power.
“Honor killings will never be justifiable. We shouldn’t have to mitigate the risk of honor killings by limiting our own person freedom, autonomy and self-determination.”