Father suspected of ordering ex-wife’s killing gets custody of their daughter

Two other daughters of Rabab Abu Siyam to be put into welfare care; victim’s mother, who had been taking care of all three children, slams court ruling as ‘disservice’ to the girls

Rabab Abu Siyam. (Courtesy)
Rabab Abu Siyam. (Courtesy)

A father suspected of ordering the fatal shooting of his ex-wife, who was executed in front of their three children, will get custody of their youngest, a court ruled Tuesday.

Rabab Abu Siyam was shot dead with her daughter in her lap in Lod in July 2022.  The case horrified many Israelis and sparked calls for better protection of women.

Abu Siyam had recently divorced, with those close to her saying that her ex-husband had repeatedly threatened her, forcing her to flee the city. At the time of the shooting, her ex-husband was abroad but he was arrested when he returned to the country on suspicion that he had contracted the killing. He has later released and sought custody of all three children, who were being taken care of by their grandmother.

The Ramle family court ruled that, with the agreement of the father, he will get custody of the youngest girl, now 3, while two other daughters, aged 6  and 11, will be taken to an emergency shelter for children. The court session was held behind closed doors and there is a prohibition on publishing details from the proceedings.

Abu Siyam’s mother, Aminah, panned the decision, telling media that “a father who loves his daughters would not send them to a shelter.”

“I lost my daughter a few months ago and now her daughters,” she lamented. She accused police of failing to do their job by not yet arresting culprits in the shooting, and also denounced welfare for doing “a disservice to the girls.”

“They took them from the family, from their home, from the warm food that I prepare them,” she said.

Aminah Abu Siyam, mother of Rabab Abu Siyam was shot dead in July 2022, seen at the Ramle family court, January 31, 2023. (Ynet; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Police and Welfare Ministry officials had for months opposed handing the children to the father, but recently the latter changed its position, Walla reported.

On Monday, a welfare committee convened on the matter in Lod, Ynet reported. Sources told the website that the committee received “misinformation” that the police case against Abu Siyam’s ex-husband was closed, and later recommended that the younger daughter be returned to her father. It was only later that the committee found out that the case is still open, according to the report.

Abu Siyam was in her garden on Lod’s Ben Yehuda Street when witnesses said they heard shots, then saw a white car fleeing from the scene.

Police later found the vehicle burnt out in a valley.

Rabab Abu Siyam had been warned by police not to return to the city without alerting the authorities, although it was unclear if her ex-husband had been formally warned or arrested at any stage.

Last October, gunmen arrived at Aminah Abu Siyam’s home and sprayed the building with bullets, without causing injury.

Activists have long complained that not enough is done to prevent violence against women in Israel, particularly in cases known to the authorities.

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