Two Women Found Dead in Central Israel in 24 Hours

An unidentified woman found dead in Rishon Letzion may be the same one who went missing weeks ago ■ Intisar Issawi was shot dead in Ramle, making her the 25th Arab to die in gun violence epidemic

The crime scene in Ramleh, May 25, 2019.
\ Moti Milrod

Since Saturday night, two women were found dead in central Israel. The news comes amid escalating tensions between the police and Israel's Arabs, who say the police are not doing enough to curb violent crime in their communities and held protests in multiple locations Saturday. 

The body of a 50-year-old woman was found behind bushes Sunday morning in the city of Rishon Letzion. A medical source told Haaretz that there were signs of strangulation on the body.

Police are investigating whether this is the same woman who went missing about two weeks ago. Forensic scientists examined the body, which was transferred to the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Tel Aviv.   

>> Read more: After 24th Arab Israeli falls victim to gun violence, his town set to protest police neglect ■ Street crime isn't an internal matter for Israel's Arab community | Editorial 

Following reports of an unconscious woman, a Magen David Adom team was called to the area where the woman was found, and declared her dead at the scene. A medic told Haaretz that people who work in the area called emergency services when the body was found, but that she showed no signs of life.

On Saturday night, Intisar Issawi, a mother of five, was shot on the street near her home in Ramle. She was evacuated to Assaf Harofeh hospital by car in critical condition, and was declared dead. A neighbor of Issawi, also wounded in the shooting, was also brought to the hospital.

The neighbor was known to the police, as was Issawi's son, and an initial investigation revealed that she was shot by accident during a clash between criminals. Riot police and border police were called to the scene and collected security camera footage from throughout the city.

A relative of the deceased told Haaretz that Issawi is originally from Kfar Kassem, and married a resident of Ramle about 20 years ago. He added that she was not under threat, and one of her sons, who was with her at the crime scene, is involved in crime and may have been the intended target in the shooting.

The police also said that Issawi was not defined as at-risk, and was not in need of protection.   

Fourteen demonstrations were held on Saturday at junctions and in Arab towns, protesting the conduct of the police in fighting crime and illegal weapons in the Arab community.

The decision to hold the demonstrations was made by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, which met last week in the Arab town of Baka al-Garbiyeh in central Israel, following three recent murders – one in Baka, one in Tamra and one in Nazareth.

Protesters also called attention to the death of Daniel Halabi, 18, who was stabbed to death on Saturday in his Druze hometown of Daliat al-Carmel during a brawl. Three suspects were arrested Saturday night on suspicion of involvement in the incident.

Dozens of protesters attended each demonstration, alongside mayors, Knesset members from Arab parties and political and social activists. Among the protest sites were Umm al-Fahm, Taibeh, Nazareth, Baka al-Garbiyeh, Rahat, Sakhnin and on the main road near Majdal Krum in the Western Galilee, which protesters blocked for a few minutes.

In another protest planned for next month, a convoy of vehicles is expected to drive along Route 6 and a protest tent will be set up opposite the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.