Thousands at funeral of Palestinian killed in Australia

Mourners cry during the funeral of Arab-Israeli student Aya Maasarwe in the Arab-Israeli town of Baqa Al-Gharbiya on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2019

Thousands at funeral of Palestinian killed in Australia

  • The 21-year-old was raped and murdered in Australia’s second-largest city Melbourne
  • Thousands of people gathered in silence at Baqa Al-Gharbiya, a town with a Muslim majority

BAQA AL-GHARBIYA, ISRAEL: Thousands of mourners attended the funeral on Wednesday of Aya Maasarwe, an Arab Israeli student killed in Australia, in her hometown of Baqa Al-Gharbiya in northern Israel.

The 21-year-old was raped and murdered in Australia’s second-largest city Melbourne shortly after midnight on Jan. 16 when she was on her way home from a comedy show.

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

Police in Australia, who have described the attack as “horrific,” have arrested and charged a suspect, 20-year-old Codey Herrmann, with her rape and murder.

The murder of Maasarwe, who had been studying in Australia for a year, shocked the country and sparked a huge outpouring of grief that saw thousands attend vigils in her memory.

“I appreciate the support of all these people, in the whole world and also in my town,” said her father, Saeed Maasarwe, with Australia’s ambassador to Israel, Chris Cannan, by his side.

Thousands of people gathered in silence at Baqa Al-Gharbiya, a town with a Muslim majority, as mourners carried the coffin containing Maasarwe’s body to her family home.

The only sound that could be heard was of Muslim prayers from loudspeakers.

Youths marching in a procession held up black banners that read “It’s time to say: Stop killing women” and “Women have the right to live in peace” in both Arabic and English.

A crowd of mourners then followed Maasarwe’s coffin as it was taken to the Al-Sarat Mosque and cemetery where she was laid to rest.

Hours earlier, the town’s mayor, Khaled Abu Mukh, and Israeli Arab MP Ahmad Tibi accompanied Maasarwe’s father as her coffin arrived at the airport.

In a video posted on social media, Tibi said Maasarwe was now the daughter of all Arab Israelis.

Arab Israelis are descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land following the creation of Israel in 1948.

They account for some 17.5 percent of Israel’s population and largely support the Palestinian cause.


Haftar, Saleh in surprise Cairo visit for crisis talks on Libya

Updated 13 min 10 sec ago

Haftar, Saleh in surprise Cairo visit for crisis talks on Libya

  • The meeting in Cairo followed a surprise visit to the Egyptian capital by Haftar and Saleh on Tuesday

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Wednesday held crisis talks with the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar, and parliament speaker, Aguila Saleh, on latest developments in the Libya conflict.

The meeting in Cairo followed a surprise visit to the Egyptian capital by Haftar and Saleh on Tuesday that coincided with a speech at the UN by El-Sisi in which he said Egypt would intervene if the “red line” provinces of Sirte and Jufra were crossed.

During Wednesday’s discussions in Cairo, held in the presence of Abbas Kamel, head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Service (GIS), El-Sisi was briefed on efforts from all parties to implement a cease-fire and Libyan attempts to advance the peace process under the auspices of the UN.

According to media reports, Haftar, Saleh, and Egyptian officials would be reviewing military matters and progress on political initiatives.

The visit came within the framework of coordination and consultation talks on a number of issues, most notably the fight against terrorism, and Egyptian efforts to broker security and stability in Libya through political dialogue. Initiatives on Libya that took place in Geneva and Morocco, such as holding elections and forming a new government, were also likely to be on the agenda.

In June, Haftar and Saleh met with the Egyptian president and announced the Cairo Declaration for a cease-fire and resolution to the political crisis in Libya. Sources said their latest visit was to clarify Cairo’s position with international and Libyan parties, discuss a comprehensive solution to the Libyan crisis through international agreements, and smooth over any misunderstandings.

The unscheduled trip was due to recent developments in Libya and the intention of the Government of National Accord (GNA) to establish an army in Libya, the sources added.

Salah Al-Nimroush, minister of defense in the GNA which is headed by Fayez Al-Sarraj, has announced the start of programs to build and develop his government’s army with the help of Turkey.

He also said that a military training center had been set up in the suburbs of the Libyan capital and that the priority was to build the army, according to international standards, with the young support force that participated in the defense of Tripoli.

As well as security, the subject of Libyan oil was up for discussion with the Egyptian authorities.

Last week, the Libyan army announced its agreement to reopen oil fields and resume exports on condition that guarantees were made for the fair distribution of oil revenues and the prevention of their use for funding terrorism and fueling corruption.

In a speech addressed to Libyans, Haftar said that the General Command of the army would not hesitate to make concessions as long as they were in the interests of the Libyan people, with the aim of preventing further deterioration of the economic situation in the country.