The leader of a major Arab town in Israel has scolded political leaders for what he says was their failure to address the murder of a young Israeli Arab woman in Australia last week.
Baqa al-Gharbiyye Mayor Mursi Abu Mokh on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Culture Minister Miri Regev, saying it was a disgrace that no official had publically expressed their sorrow at the murder of 21-year-old Aiia Maasarwe, who was raped and killed in Mellbourne. Maasarwe was a resident of the town.
“In less than 48 hours, the Australian police forces arrested a suspect in this heinous murder, which made headlines worldwide—from China, through the US and in Israeli media. It’s more than astounding that so far, days after the tragic murder and with all the vast media coverage, we’ve heard nothing—not a statement or an announcement—from any Israel official,” Abu Mokh wrote.
“Not making even one short announcement to the press is a serious and embarrassing oversight on Israel’s side… coming from a country that considers itself an egalitarian state for all its residents,” he said. “It’s a deafening silence. We hope you fix this in a manner that befits this tragic event.
“This is while the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was ‘devastated over the murder and the sexual assault,’ and said that all residents—no matter their race, religion or gender—need to feel secure.”
After several days of uncertainty about the repatriation of Aiia's body, her funeral is now expected to take place on Wednesday. In Australia, many of the thousands of women who took to the streets at the weekend to protest domestic violence were carrying banners bearing Maasarwe’s name.
President Rivlin’s staff said in response that he had been in contact "with the local consul through the Foreign Ministry, and a letter expressing condolences was sent to the family.”
Aiia’s father, Sai’d Maasarwe, said he has no complaints about the silence of Israeli officials. “Each will do whatever he deems right. We’re going through a very tough time that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. We think positively, we have no hate and hate doesn’t guide us. Our compass in life is love, thinking positive, making a better future for our children.”
MK Youssef Jabareen of the Joint List, said he spoke to representatives from the Australian embassy in Israel who promised a thorough and rapid investigation of the murder—and they delivered. He also slammed the Israeli leadership for its silence.
“It’s unheard of that no official statement was made by Israel so far—not by the prime minister or any minister. It’s a disgrace that exemplifies a degrading treatment for the victim’s family and the whole Arab public, who mourns Aiia,” he said.
In Baqa al-Gharbiyye, hundreds rallied on Saturday in protest of Maasarwe’s rape and murder.
Nur Maasrwe, Aiia’s sister, demanded that the government make every effort to repatriate the body of her sister. “I ask you, the prime minister, minister of foreign affairs and all who are involved: work to get the body home as fast as possible. We can’t wait any longer.”
“I don’t know how my sisters and I will live without her. We can’t comprehend that we’ll never talk to her again,” said Nur.