18-year-old Israeli Arab Woman Shot Dead While Shopping for Her Wedding

Police source says the woman ran away from home but agreed to return after being assured that her family would reconsider its position on her engagement

Police at the scene of the shooting of a young woman in Lod, March 13, 2019.
Ilan Assayag

An 18-year-old woman was shot dead inside a vehicle in Lod on Wednesday, with neighbors telling Haaretz that her family had demanded that she cut ties with her fiancé, who is also 18 and a resident of the central Israeli city. The two were due to be married on Thursday.

Neighbors said the family of the woman, identified as Diana Abu Qatifan, was engaged to Bakr Abu Ghanem and that her family was against the marriage. Police arrested four of the woman's relatives for questioning, residents of Lod aged 24 to 64. 

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The suspicion is that she was shot by an unnknown assailant at close range while she was sitting in the car. Abu Qatifan's grandfather, who was in the car with her, was slightly wounded. The two had been on their way to shop for the wedding. Following the shooting, Abu Gatifan was taken to Assaf Harofeh Hospital at Tzrifin, where she was pronounced dead.

Her mother was murdered in 2006 in Lod. In that case, police arrested the mother's husband and recommended that he be charged in the case, but the prosecutor's office decided not to file charges.  

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Police at the scene of the shooting of a young woman in Lod, March 13, 2019.
Ilan Assayag

According to a police source, Diana Abu Qatifan's family informed the police this month that she had gone missing. Police investigators, who knew the family disapproved of her engagement, found her and her fiancé in Ramallah in the West Bank.

She refused to return home at first, but following assurances that no harm would come to her and that her relatives would reconsider their position on the engagement, the couple returned to Israel after several days. Police said members of the family had said that a home had been prepared for the couple and that the family had promised to help them financially.

Neighbors said Abu Ghanem comes from a Bedouin family that moved to the center of the country in the 1970s.  A police source said Abu Qatifan, whose family is also of Bedouin origin, was offered police protection and accommodations at a women's shelter but declined the offer. A source at the municipal social welfare department told Haaretz that Abu Qatifan had not been known to local authorities and that they had been unaware that she had been offered police protection.

Police believe that the family was not opposed to the relationship between Abu Qatifan and Abu Ghanem itself but rather how it was pursued. The relationship had not been arranged.

Last year saw renewed public attention to violence against women in Israel. Thousands participated in protests amid allegations that authorities have failed to adequately address the issue after two teenage girls were murdered in separate incidents during the same week.