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

Police released these images of Aiia Maasarwe, taken on the night she was killed near Melbourne, Australia on 16 January, 2019.
Victoria Police
Victoria police have described the attack as 'horrific'

The mayor of the Arab-Israeli village from where hailed the 21-year-old student murdered in Australia slammed on Sunday Israel’s leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, for 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 pointed at the Israeli government for failing to give any attention to the murder of Aiia Masarwa that has rocked Australia.  

An aspiring rapper with a reportedly troubled background was charged with the murder of the Israeli student on Saturday.

"We learned last Wednesday that the body of the student Aya Sa'id Masarwa, from the city of Baqa al Garbiyeh, was discovered in Melbourne with marks of physical violence. This information fell on us like a thunderstorm, leaving the entire city in shock.  An indescribable sadness for the most precious loss of all, in addition to tension and nerves since the burial date is unknown."

The funeral is expected to happen on Wednesday, though it is not clear when her body will return to Israel.

The case has been all over the news in Australia and comes amid growing protests over violence against women.

Thousands of women took to the streets of Sydney in the wake of Massarwa's murder, while campaigners on Friday called 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.

Hebrew media outlets originally flooded the wire with reports of the Israeli student’s murder, but reports seemed to wane after it became apparent that she was an Arab-Israeli.

But her father said, "I have no complaints to anyone, we are going through a very difficult period.”

Maasarwe, who was reportedly five months into a year-long exchange at Melbourne's LaTrobe University, was coming home from a comedy club to the northern suburb of Bundoora before she was met by her attacker around midnight.

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.

Members of Aiia's family told The Australian that the 21-year-old was so scared of the walk from the tram stop to her home that she would often call one of her sisters while walking alone.

Her body was found in bushes near a tram stop by passers-by several hours later.

Victoria police, who have previously described the attack as "horrific", said the charge "follows an extensive investigation into Aiia's death following the discovery of her body" they added.

The force also thanked "the community and the media for the assistance that they have provided during this investigation."


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