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Body of murdered Arab-Israeli student released by Australian authority: report

Two women stand at a floral tribute, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, at the scene where the body of Israeli student Aiia Maasarwe was found earlier in the week in Melbourne, Australia. Maasarwe, a 21-year-old student who had been studying at La Trobe University.
Ellen Smith/AAP Image via AP
A vigil will be held on Tuesday evening at a makeshift memorial in the Melbourne suburb of Bundoora

The body of the Arab-Israeli student who was raped and murdered in a suburb of Melbourne was released by the Coroner’s Court of Victoria to return home with her father on Tuesday, the Australian Age newspaper reported.

The funeral for Aya Maasarwe was reportedly set for Wednesday in her hometown of Baqa al-Gharbiya in northern Israel.

Details of the alleged rape have reportedly been left out of court documents in order to prevent leaks to the media.

Hundreds of people participated in a rally over the weekend in her hometown, with demonstrators and leaders accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government of neglecting to address the incident.

"Days after the heinous murder and we have not heard a word from you,” said the mayor of Baqa al-Gharbia, Attorney Mursi Abu Mouk, joined by some Arab-Israeli parliament members who echoed the criticism of the Israeli government.

Israel, a country of less than nine million people, is often very quick to address any tragedies regarding any one of its citizens, but there has been a conspicuous silence from Netanyahu's government regarding the incident, suggestive of differing treatment for Arab-Israelis in contrast with their Jewish countrymen.

In Australia, the murder has sparked intense outcry and was condemned by many leaders including the prime minister. 

Her father Saeed Maasarwe reportedly requested that her name be spelled as “Aya” rather than “Aiia” as stated in her passport in order to show that she is a Palestinian of Israel citizenship.Victoria Police

"[I wish] to continue the light with my three daughters and to teach them to love, to think positive, and with this night in the dark to look to the stars just to see the light in the dark," Maasarwe told reporters on Monday tearfully by the side of his nephew.

"This I study from Aiia, it's not from me, this is Aiia's words but this is my voice. To see the light in the dark. I wish all the people see the light, to go to the light and not be in the dark, and to think positive," he explained, expressing his appreciation for the outpouring of support.

The case has been all over the news in Australia and comes as thousands of women took to the streets of Sydney over the weekend calling for an end to the "epidemic of violence against women" ahead of the vigil.

"We march today and think of Aya," said one of the marchers.

A 20-year-old aspiring rapper Codey Herrmann was charged in her rape and murder and was remanded in custody pending the next hearing scheduled for June 7.

She was talking on the phone with her sister, who was overseas and raised the alarm after something went awry mid-conversation, police said.

"(Her sister) heard the sound of the phone falling to the ground and heard some voices," Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper told reporters.James Ross/AAP Image via AP

A vigil will be held on Tuesday evening at a makeshift memorial in Bundoora, the Melbourne suburb where she was living during her year-long exchange program at LaTrobe University from Shanghai University.

The issue of discrimination against Arab-Israelis has been pushed to the fore following the enactment of the highly-contested bill, which passed by a 62-55 margin in Knesset, that describes Israel as the historic homeland of the Jews, enshrining their "unique" right to self-determination within its borders.

Last month, American-Israeli Hollywood star Natalie Portman called the nation state law “racist” and a “mistake” in an interview with London-based Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

In a rare statement from the former IDF Chief-of-Staff Benny Gantz, who is considered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s top challenger for the premiership, said he will "do everything in his power to correct" the law if elected.\

Read more:

Despite improvements, Arabs still underrepresented in Israeli media: report

Arab-Israeli leaders slam Netanyahu for neglecting student's murder in Australia

'Say their names': Israelis protest violence against women as two teens murdered


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