The Israeli city of Lod is a powder keg of tension after a devastating wave of recent murders, most of which are believed to have been honor killings related to interfamily disputes.
The latest two murders were particularly chilling. At the beginning of October, Amal Khalili, a 27-year-old divorced mother of three who reportedly had been threatened by the family of her ex-husband, was shot in her car as she sat alongside her brother and her 7-year-old daughter. And then again, last Tuesday, a mother of five named Abir Abu-Katifu was shot — also in front of her children. Four of her male relatives were arrested for involvement in the crime.
Both Jewish and Arab residents of the city, afraid in their own city’s streets, are calling out for action. The Arab sector kept their children out of school on Thursday to protest the lack of security.
Comments by Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, a member of the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party, didn’t help the situation. Although announcing that he would deploy extra forces in Lod and confiscate illegal weapons, he noted that that “preventing murders, especially ‘family honor’ slayings, will not be achieved through increased enforcement, but through a change in culture, education, legal deterrence, an increased role by welfare services, and an improvement in infrastructure.”
The statement provoked an angry response by Arab female Knesset Member Hanin Zoabi of the Balad party. “What Aharonovitch is doing is the opposite of taking responsibility,” she said. Instead of declaring war on crime, which is rising in the Arab sector over police obsequiousness, he is publically renouncing his personal responsibility. … Does culture in the Jewish sector prevent crime? Does American culture prevent crime in New York? This is not just the police’s abandonment of citizens’ lives, but a cultural superiority which can only be pitied.” At an angry rally Friday to protest the violence, and the ineffectiveness of the police, in which both Arabs and Jews participated, Abu-Katifu’s sister Fatma charged that police “close the cases right away, and just say it was an honor killing. If they were to actually solve these cases and crack down on the murderers, other people would think twice before killing people like this in the future.”
Another woman at the rally named Aida told The Jerusalem Post that the atmosphere for women in the city is poisonous: “Women are receiving death threats by phone, by SMS. We know that we’ll hear about another woman getting killed in Lod tomorrow, or the next day.”