One Family Clan, 10 Murdered Women - and Only Two Convictions

Ramle clan fears more violence against female relatives, should they cooperate with police, after 10th woman killed over the weekend.

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Nine female relatives of Busaina Abu-Ghanem, who was shot to death in Ramle on Saturday, were also murdered in so-called honor killings, between 2000 and 2007. However, only three of the cases resulted in the filing of indictments, and defendants were convicted in only two of the cases. In the third case involving female members of the clan, the key witness disappeared.

Police now suspect several people who knew the victim of involvement in the murder of Busaina Abu-Ghanem. At present, a gag order has been imposed on publication of most of the details of the investigation. Family members are concerned that female relatives will be in danger should they decide to cooperate with the police inquiry.

In recent weeks, several female relatives have been assaulted. Members of the family mentioned that there was growing tension after Busaina, who was 31 at the time of her death, and her husband decided to separate some time ago. It was her husband who initiated the separation, they noted, after his family put him under intense pressure to leave his wife. Busaina’s efforts to carry on with life despite the difficulties she suffered engendered resentment of her, they added.

The first indictment following the murder of a female member of the Abu-Ghanem clan, Rim Abu-Ghanem, was filed in 2008. In 2003, she had decided to call off her engagement to a man whom she was being forced to marry. She then moved to Kafr Qasem, where she lived with another partner. According to the indictment, her brothers looked askance at her decision, killing her and throwing her body into a hole in the ground. Four of the brothers were convicted of murder. Three received 19-year sentences and the fourth 12 years.

The second case of murder in which investigators believed they found the perpetrator involved the murder of Sherihan Abu-Ghanem, who was 16 at the time of her death in 2006. According to the indictment, she was killed by her brother, who was jealous of her. In their investigation, police succeeded in obtaining the cooperation of female members of the family for the first time.

A year later, the lifeless body of Hamda Abu-Ghanem was found in her parents’ bed in Ramle. Relatives were arrested on suspicion of involvement in her murder. In this instance as well, police investigators benefited from the cooperation of women clan members.

A female cousin of the victim surfaced as a key witness in the case and, based on her testimony, one of Hamda's brothers was indicted for the murder. Several months later, however, the cousin disappeared. Police suspect that she too was killed and that her body was buried in a part of the West Bank controlled by the Palestinian Authority.