Hundreds of Arabs, predominantly women, took to the streets in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas on Wednesday to demand action following the “honor killing” of a 21-year-old-woman near Bethlehem last month.
Israa Ghrayeb, a makeup artist, sustained serious spinal injuries after falling from the balcony of her family home in Beit Sahour as she tried to escape an attack by male relatives, including her father and brothers. P.A. media reports that the assault took place after a video posted on Instagram showed her meeting in public with her fiancé.
Ghrayeb was hospitalized, but the male relatives followed her and continued their assault at the hospital, according to reports in Arab media. Audio recordings of Ghrayeb’s screams were leaked by nurses at the hospital. Her family members claim they were performing an “exorcism” on her.
After returning home, Ghrayeb reportedly suffered a head injury at the hands of her brother, who had threatened to kill her earlier in the day. She subsequently went into a coma and died.
Ghrayeb’s family denied killing her, saying that she had a “mental condition” and had died as the result of a “heart attack, following an accidental fall into the courtyard.”
At least 18 women have been murdered by family members in “honor killings” this year in P.A.-controlled areas. Such murders are ostensibly committed to avenge perceived slights to families’ honor, and are generally related to female fraternization with men or other breaks with conservative codes of conduct for women.
The P.A. is investigating the incident and has apparently made several arrests.
Ghrayeb’s death sparked outrage in parts of the P.A. and on social media, where the hashtag #JusticeforIsraa accompanied cries for action against the perpetrators of such murders, and for a reform of P.A. law to afford more legal protection to women.
In Ramallah on Wednesday, hundreds of women congregated with signs reading “My body is my property” and “We are all Israa.”
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