#WeAreIsraa: Outrage as Palestinian woman 'tortured to death' in honour killing

#WeAreIsraa: Outrage as Palestinian woman 'tortured to death' in honour killing
Israa Ghrayeb, 21, was reportedly beaten to death by her brother because she posted a selfie with her partner a day before they were due to get engaged.
3 min read
31 August, 2019
Israa was a talented makeup artist [Twitter]

Activists across the world are calling for justice for a Palestinian woman after she was reportedly killed in a family honour killing on Thursday.

Israa Ghrayeb, a 21-year-old Palestinian from Bethlehem, died after allegedly being beaten and tortured by her brother after she posted a video on social media with a man who she was soon to be engaged to.

Her brother Ihab, a Canadian resident, was reportedly angered by the video, claiming it dishonoured the family by showing her together with her fiancé before the official wedding ceremony.

He was reportedly called on by their father to beat Israa after cousins of the family saw the footage online, according to social media reports.

Whilst attempting to escape her family's violence, she fell from the second floor of their house, causing serious spinal injuries, according to media reports.

An aspiring makeup artist, she announced on her Instagram story that she had to cancel all appointments for August and September because her health wouldn't allow her to work while she was awaiting a spinal cord operation.

"I'm strong and I have the will to live — if I didn’t have this willpower, I would have died yesterday," she wrote. 

"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," she added.

She was then reportedly assaulted a second time whilst in hospital, with video footage emerging online of her screaming during the alleged attack.

The circumstances surrounding her death are unclear, with social media reports claiming she died at home days after being assaulted in hospital.

Israa's family have denied the accusations, and claim she died from a heart attack.

Palestinian Authority police have not made an official statement about the alleged killing.

Adalah Justice Project, a Palestinian Human Rights organisation, said they were "outraged and saddened" by Israa's "heinous killing", and called for an investigation into her alleged murder.

"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 group said in a statement.

An Arabic hashtag which translates to #WeAreAllIsraa began trending online, with social media users posting messages of solidarity and calling for justice.

Many pointed out that Israa followed all of the social protocols. She chose to marry her partner, saw him with her parent's permission and with a chaperone, and adhered to the Islamic head covering known as the hijab, but was still murdered in the name of family honour.

Others called on the Canadian government to arrest her brother.

"As a survivor of an honour killing, Israa's story triggered a deeply embedded fear of mine," feminist blogger Fadumo Adan told The New Arab.

She emphasised that despite the fact women are becoming financially independent, they still remain at risk.

"We live in a world where honour 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."

"Honour killings will never be justifiable. We shouldn't have to mitigate the risk of honour killings by limiting our own person freedom, autonomy and self-determination," Fadumo added.

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This story has been updated with stylistic changes and to include a statement by Adalah Justice Project calling for an investigation into Israa’s death. This version also includes a response from Israa's family about her death.