Murder of Teenager Shows Dual Risk for Women Under Coronavirus Quarantine

Hotlines flooded with calls from women confined with abusive partners or families

Jack Khoury
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zamzam mahamid
Zamzam Mahamid. Credit:
Jack Khoury

The death of Zamzam Mahamid, 19, in Umm al-Fahm on Wednesday didn’t make the headlines. She was killed by an unknown assailant who shot her at close range as she walked down one of the city’s main streets.

Witness accounts gathered by Haaretz suggest that Mahamid had been the victim of violence and exploitation, and had lived in Haifa for the past two years. One friend said Mahamid left her family’s home apparently due to the violence she had experienced there, and then faced exploitation from people outside her family.

“Someone persuaded her to return to Umm al-Fahm, exploiting the coronavirus crisis, and that’s how they ambushed and shot her,” the friend said.

Mahamid’s murder was not in the headlines due to the coronavirus crisis. Arab women’s groups said they would try to organize a protest on social media platforms on Sunday.

Women’s organizations say their hotlines have been flooded with calls lately because women who are victims of domestic violence are currently under quarantine with their partners or their families. These women face a double risk: at home they live with the threat of violence from family members, while the shelters are full and put the women there in danger of infection due to overcrowding.

Samah Salima, who is part of a women’s organization in the center of the country, said that many women think there are no social services available during emergency periods. But “In Israel, particularly in Arab society, in times of crisis, women pay a higher price within their homes,” she said.

Maha Aghbaria, a feminist and political activist in Umm al-Fahm, told Haaretz: “Mahamid is another victim of violence as a result of continued neglect by all those involved. She was a young woman in distress who got caught in a very difficult situation and in the end she was murdered in cold blood.”

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