Police searching for brother in killing of woman in north

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Police on Saturday said they suspect the brother of an 18-year-old woman shot dead in northern Israel was responsible for the killing.

Sarit Ahmad, who was killed on Friday while sitting in her car outside the majority-Druze locality Kisra-Sumei in the western Galilee region, was threatened in the past over her sexual orientation by two of her brothers. They were arrested and briefly jailed in 2021 after she filed a police complaint against them.

Police said they are searching for one of them, who disappeared after the suspected murder. They asserted to have evidence linking him to the killing.

Ahmad’s father said her brothers could not have been responsible for the killing.

“What will they investigate? I wish every girl in the world was treated like how she was by her brothers,” he told Channel 12 news on Saturday.

According to Ahmad’s complaint to the police in 2020, one of the brothers promised to pay NIS 200,000 to whoever killed her. The other brother allegedly threatened to “stab her with a knife in the stomach and after that drink a beer as if nothing happened.”

“I am one million percent sure that my daughter was not targeted because she has no problem with anyone,” the father said Saturday, adding he wished he knew who to blame.

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 recalled his last conversation with his daughter.

“She said to me — ‘Dad, I’m going.’ She didn’t tell me where, only that she was going for a few minutes and I told her that this is okay and not to be late,” he said. “I called her and she didn’t answer me. I knew that she won’t answer me anymore. Her mother came running downstairs and called me to come to the hospital.”

According to the Abraham Initiatives, an anti-violence monitoring group, Ahmad was the 99th member of the Arab community killed this year in a crime wave that has spiked since the establishment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government five months ago.

On Saturday, two men were killed in separate incidents in the south and center of the country, becoming the 100th and 101st members of the Arab community to be killed this year.

Critics and protesters have pointed the finger at Netanyahu, whose government took office in late December, as well as National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, on whom half a dozen former police chiefs called to step aside on Friday as the rampant bloodshed continues.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir at the scene where five people were shot dead in the town of Yafa an-Naseriyye, June 8, 2023. (Fadi Amun/Flash90)

On Saturday, dozens of LGBTQ activists gathered at Tel Aviv’s Habima Square and Kishor Junction near the murder scene to protest against the violence.

Earlier this week, Netanyahu announced a decision to form a steering committee following a meeting with Arab lawmakers to discuss “solutions to the wave of murders in the Arab society.”

They demanded urgent action to combat the crime wave.

On Thursday, Netanyahu said he was “determined to stop this chain of murders” and would see that happen by not only reinforcing police but also “with the help of the Shin Bet.”

Police, politicians, and community leaders have struggled over the past several years to rein in criminal activity driving the spiking violence, which has appeared to ramp up in recent months.

Many community leaders blame the police, who they say have failed to crack down on powerful criminal organizations and largely ignore the violence, which includes loan sharking, family feuds, mafia turf wars, protection rackets and violence against women. The communities have also suffered from years of neglect by state authorities.

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