A 30-year-old elementary school teacher was shot dead Tuesday evening while her 2-year-old daughter was playing on her lap in the central city of Lod.
Rabab Abu Siyam, a mother of three, was in her garden on the city’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.
Abu Siyam had recently been divorced, with those close to her saying that her ex-husband had repeatedly threatened her, forcing her to flee the city.
“Yesterday I was surprised to see her in the house, but she told me she just wanted to see her daughters,” said Mohammed Abu Siyam, the victim’s father, in an interview with Radio 103FM.
He continued: “In the evening… I was inside the house and my daughter was outside. Someone came, passed my parked car and entered the courtyard. The two-and-a-half-year-old was on her lap, and he shot her [Rabab Abu Siyam] six times in the head and three times in the side.”
“My wife tried to protect her, [but] he pushed her. I came outside and he fled. My wife saw the whole thing,” Mohammed Abu Siyam said.
He criticized the Lod police for not having taken action on the matter, claiming that “everyone knew her story for six months.”
“I’m sorry to my daughter for everything. I know what it’s like to have children. You cannot separate a mother from her children,” Mohammed Abu Siyam added.
On Wednesday, Hebrew media published footage apparently showing the shooter’s car fleeing the scene after the shots were fired.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) July 27, 2022
After police responded to the incident, violent scuffles broke out between police and local residents.
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.
In a late-night press conference Tuesday, police commander Avi Bitton said that the woman had been told to leave the city.
“The woman was known to us after a prolonged conflict with her husband in which she received multiple threats. Lod police recommended on multiple occasions that she live under protection and leave the city,” he said.
“In the past week, Lod police visited Abu Siyam in the south of the country and warned her not to come to Lod. Unfortunately, she returned and the event ended in tragedy,” Bitton said.
Pushing back against the police comments, which appeared to at least partially blame the victim, MK Aida Touma-Sliman told the Kan public broadcaster that the protection of women is the responsibility of everyone.
“Women can’t be locked up in shelters all their lives,” said Touma-Sliman, head of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality.
“I don’t have any faith the police are doing everything they can,” she said.
Activists have long complained that not enough is done to prevent violence against women in Israel, particularly in cases known to the authorities.
According to researchers at the Hebrew University-based Israel Observatory on Femicide, June was the deadliest month this year so far for the murder of women — four deaths within 10 days.
A study by the center examining the first half of 2022 found a 71 percent increase in femicide relative to the same period last year — 12 as compared to seven.
The center said in a January report that there were 16 cases of women murdered in Israel by a relative or a partner throughout 2021, and 21 cases in 2020.