‘Killed in cold blood’ – Arab anti-violence activist murdered

Women’s rights and anti-violence activist murdered in car bombing; her grandfather was an MK, and her father is the deputy mayor of a northern Israeli town.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

An anti-violence and women’s rights activist from a prominent Druze family was killed by a bomb, apparently planted on her vehicle, on Tuesday evening.

Johara Khnifes, 28, was killed when the bomb detonated while she was driving near the entrance of her hometown Shfaram, in northern Israel.

According to Hebrew-language reports, police at the scene identified an explosive device attached to the underside of her car, after firefighters put out the massive blaze.

Her father, Faraj, is the deputy mayor of Shfaram, though police said that they believe the assassination was not related to his political career. Rather, it appears that the killing likely stemmed from Khnifes’ vocal criticism of rampant violence in Israel’s Arab communities and her advocacy for Arab women.

The family said that they had not received any threats or experienced clashes with others in the community, and were completely shocked by the killing.

“My daughter, Johara, was a cheerful, very intelligent person, who loved helping others and loved life. She was very effective in women’s issues, and always sought to advance the status of women,” Faraj Khinfes told the Arab 48 news site.

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(The term ‘Arab 48’ refers to the Arabs who remained in the country following the establishement of the State of Israel and their descendants.)

“The last conversation we had was yesterday at 8 p.m., when she said she was going out in her vehicle, and everything was normal. I was at a family gathering and then the news fell on us like a thunderbolt.”

In November 2021, Khnifes spoke with Arab 48 about an uptick in murder in Arab communities.

“I stress that we must… confront violence and its causes, in order to be able to live in peace, security and tranquility, like other advanced nations that enjoy security and safety,” she said.

Khnifes’ family is one of the most prominent in Israel’s Druze community. Her grandfather, Saleh Khnifes, served as an MK in the 1950s, as a member of a small party that partnered with the then-politically dominant Mapai party.

“I want Johara to come back to me and nothing else,” Khnifes’ mother, Badia, told Arab 48 shortly after the murder.

“At the moment, I do not know anything, I only know that she was killed in cold blood, and I do not know the [motive] or any details.”

The city of Shfaram released a statement condemning the murder.

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“We see this criminal act as a transgression of all the red lines that threaten our society and lead it to the brink of collapse,” read the statement.

“We stand side by side with the honorable family, and we call on all officials from the government and the police to take all measures to identify the perpetrators and put an end to these criminal acts.”

The police have not yet arrested any suspects or persons of interests in the killing.