A woman shot dead over the weekend complained three years ago to police that her brothers were threatening to murder her, with one offering NIS 200,000 ($56,000) for her killing after she spoke about being in a romantic relationship with another woman.
Sarit Ahmad, 18, was shot dead Friday, in a killing police suspect was linked to her sexual orientation. She was the 99th member of the Arab community killed since the start of 2023, a toll that has since risen to 102.
Police said Saturday they are searching for one of her brothers, who disappeared after the suspected murder. They claimed to have evidence linking him to the killing.
“The brother that discovered [the relationship] is 30 years old. He took my phone and threatened to pay someone to kill me. He made the threats a few times in one day,” Ahmad told police in 2020, when she was 15, according to details of the complaint aired on Channel 12 news Sunday.
“I spoke with my father and told him: ‘I am your daughter and you have to accept me.’ I said to him that I am a lesbian. He began to say: ‘You aren’t like that and if your brothers hear this they will kill you,’” she said.
Asked by police how the conversation ended, Ahmad said that her father believed that she could change her sexuality.
“When I returned home I sat in the living room with my mother and sister. My father was standing, and my brother said to me: ‘What is going on between you and this girl?’ I didn’t want to say this was my girlfriend, so I said: ‘It’s just a friend.’ He said: ‘Kill yourself, it’s better for you.’ I said okay, and I left,” Ahmad said.
She then described an argument between her brother and father, during which the sibling threatened to “pay NIS 200,000 to whoever kills me.”
She also said that her other brother threatened to stab her after overhearing her talk about her girlfriend with her parents.
“I will stab her with a knife in the stomach. After that, I will have a beer, as if nothing happened,” Ahmad overheard her brother say.
According to Hebrew media reports, Ahmad was forced to flee to a women’s shelter where she lived for a year after she was threatened by her brothers. Last month, she filed another police complaint after receiving additional threats from her brother and agreed to move to a shelter in Beersheba.
However, she soon regretted the decision and moved to live with her sister in the northern town of Sajur.
Ahmad’s father has claimed in media interviews that the brothers could not have been responsible for the murder, and had never threatened their sister.
A television reporter was attacked Saturday while covering a pro-LGBTQ memorial event for Ahmad.
Ali Mugrabi of Channel 13 news, who was with cameraman Gideon Lev Ari, said the suspects approached them as the event dispersed and were angered they were covering the LGBTQ community.
After trying to explain they were just doing their jobs by reporting on the event, Mugrabi said “they stole my phone, broke it, and started to beat me on the back and arm until Gideon called for me to jump in the car.”
“I don’t know how we were saved and escaped from there,” added Mugrabi, who was taken to a hospital, but was later released.
Lev Ari said that a large number of police were on hand and he urged them to intervene, “but they turned around and left.”
The police seemed to dispute that account, issuing a statement that said the alleged assailants did not arrive until “after the forces left.” It also noted Mugrabi’s phone was broken and that pride flags were torn down.
Police said they were searching for suspects and “view acts of violence gravely.”