Man Gets Life in Prison for Murdering 19-year-old Cousin in Southern Israel

Almog Ben Zikri
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The defendants in Hanan al-Bahiri's murder case arrive at a court hearing, Be'er Sheva, June 18, 2017.
The defendants in Hanan al-Bahiri's murder case arrive at a court hearing, Be'er Sheva, June 18, 2017.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Almog Ben Zikri

A man convicted of murdering his 19-year-old cousin in southern Israel in 2017 was sentenced on Thursday to life in prison, and two other relatives, convicted of aiding and abetting her murder, were sentenced to 10 years in prison and were ordered to pay a hefty sum in compensation. 

The Be'er Sheva District Court accepted a plea deal reached between the three men and prosecutors in the case, according to which 24-year-old Mahmad al-Bahiri confessed to the murder of 19-year-old Hanan al-Bahiri. His father, 47-year-old Younes, and Younes' brother, 28-year-old Sager, confessed to aiding the crime and will be required to pay 300,000 shekels ($87,000) of compensation to the victim's mother. 

Hanan, a resident of the Bedouin town of Lakiya, was kidnapped and murdered by her family after she and her husband divorced. The indictment stated that the men "feared" she would start dating again. They were also accused of breaking Bahiri’s neck, burning her body and burying the remains near their home.

Hanan al-Bahiri, 19, who was murdered in May 2017. Credit: Courtesy of the al-Bahiri family

Referring to the notion of so-called honor killings, the judges wrote in their decision that "It isn't an honor, but a shame that human beings act this way in the 21st century… A young woman's life was sacrificed to an ancient, cruel and inhumane tradition, only because she had the courage to defy what the patriarchal regime dictates, what men dictate."

According to the indictment filed, Bahiri was out walking late at night on May 3, 2017 in Lakiya in the northern Negev, where she lived. In a telephone call with her mother, Bahiri said she was near the local council building on her way home, but never arrived.

It went on to say that the men kidnapped her on the path to her house, took her in their car and drove for 40 minutes to one of their homes as she screamed for help. After killing her, they removed the SIM card from her phone, broke it and threw it away so she could not be located.

The police searching for the body of 19-year-old Hanan al-Bahiri in the family compound in the Negev, June 2017. Credit: Israel Police

The three men were indicted in 2017 a day after hundreds of people demonstrated around Israel protesting violence against women. Similar protests for the cause have taken place in recent months as many in Israeli society believe not enough has been done to end such violence.

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