The Prosecutor General’s Office in Ramallah on Thursday revealed the full details of the investigation into the death of Israa Gharib, 21, from the village of Beit Sahour in the Bethlehem area, who was reportedly murdered in late August at the hands of her three brothers after she had posted her picture with her fiancé on Facebook. According to Attorney General Akram al-Khatib, the deceased fell from the balcony of her family’s home, but died as a result of excessive beatings.
But the prosecutor insisted that according to his investigation, the killing was not an honor murder. Instead, he claimed, Gharib had been subjected to pressures from her family regarding her engagement in witchcraft and sorcery. Gharib’s family denied any wrongdoing and told Al Jazeera that Israa, a successful makeup artist, had been possessed by an evil spirit which caused her a heart attack.
AG al-Khatib reported that three individuals are being charged with murder in the case of Israa Gharib, who dies as a result of “acute respiratory failure … as a result of multiple injuries to the young woman.”
On Sept. 5, thousands of Arab women across the Palestinian Authority as well as abroad protested Gharib’s murder, blaming the young woman’s brothers of beating her so hard that, attempting to escape, she fell off a balcony and sustained severe spinal injuries. She was then assaulted again in the hospital, where she was heard screaming and calling for the police.
AG al-Khatib told AFP: “We have proven the false claim of the fall of the deceased from the balcony [being the cause of Gharib’s death].”
He stressed that she had been admitted to the hospital because of violence, saying evidence shows that she was subjected to a series of physical abuse in the hands of her family.
On Wednesday, three PA forensic doctors retired in protest against the improper handling of the murder and autopsy of Israa Gharib. According to the newspaper Al-Hadath, PA officials collaborated in distorting the findings in the murder case. Undersecretary of State of the Palestine Ministry of Justice, Mohammad Abu Al-Sondos, allegedly misled the attorney general by claiming that samples taken from Gharib’ corpse had been sent for examination, when only samples of body fluids were sent, indicating serious irregularities in the ministry’s forensic department – hence the three doctors’ resignations.
AG al-Khatib, who claimed the resignation of the forensic doctors had nothing to do with the murder investigation, said the case of Israa Gharib will be referred to the courts for trial in keeping with the law.