Gaza human rights groups expressed concern this week as a woman from An-Nusseirat in Gaza was murdered in an “honor killing.” The woman was the fourth to die in an honor killing in one week, and another murder had been reported the week before.
The latest victim was 28-year-old Rihab al-Hazin. Sufian and Maryam Olaywa, 45 and 30 respectively, and their 5-year-old son Jawar were murdered just days earlier.
The murders in Gaza, and the “honor killing” death of a teenaged Muslim girl from Samaria, caused one feminist activist to write to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas this week and request action. Abbas recently signed the United Nations Convention on the elimination of discrimination against women, the writer pointed out, yet had done nothing to prevent the several subsequent murders of women for “family honor” that took place in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
"My society stands chained and watching as women are killed on the cheap, though we all say we know killing is illegal and violates our religious teachings... You can stop these 'honor' killings with a stroke of your pen and tell our families that there is no honor in killing,” she told Abbas.
The writer, Nahid Tayma, called on Abbas to decree that those who commit honor murders will be punished.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza issued a similar demanding, calling on both the Fatah-led PA in Ramallah and the Hamas-led breakaway PA in Gaza to institute laws to prevent murders aimed at restoring family honor by killing those accused of sin.
"These crimes are repeatedly committed because of the near immunity granted to the perpetrators through the imposition of extremely lenient sentences,” the group said. The maximum punishment for a murder committed for the sake of family honor is three years, according to PCHR.
PCHR and other groups have recorded a number of other violent incidents beyond honor killings. Armed groups in Gaza continue to bomb cafes and other businesses seen as violating the precepts of extremist Islam, and clan warfare has been reported as well. Since mid-February, anonymous attackers in Gaza targeted a cafe, killing one person, a journalist's office and a child care center.