The Jewish woman from Dahariya * Shocking
*Noa’s tragic death – and the ambiguous fate of their Jewish son
After many years of a relationship with an Arab partner, she was found lifeless in her apartment in Beersheba. The circumstances of her death are being investigated, but at the moment, with the help of the Lehava organization, a legal battle is being waged over the Jewish boy she left behind.*
Kikar HaShabbat, in collaboration with Lehava, 4 Tishrei 5781/22.9.20
This is one of the most painful stories that you’ll ever read in recent times: For almost 10 years, Noa (fictitious name), a Jewish girl from Beersheba, knew almost every alley in Dahariya, an Arab city in the territory of the Palestinian authority.
Noa’s move to live in Dahariya began as the result of the relationship with Abed (fictitious name) that was created when she was 16. Abed is an Arab construction worker with a work permit in Israel, who came to work on a construction project next to Noa’s home in Beersheba. Noa grew up in a dysfunctional home, and as a teenager she escaped the educational system.
Abed ran into her as she was daily passing by the construction site where he worked. Slowly but surely, the connection between them got closer: He would buy her presents, promise to take care of her and shower her with compliments. At a certain stage, he even rented an apartment for her in Beersheba that he paid for out of his own pocket. Three years later, the two got married. After the wedding, Noa went to live with Abed in his home in Dahariya, but at times she would return to her rented apartment in Beersheba.
The change in Abed’s treatment of Noa was not gradual, but a sharp change of 180 degrees: From the day after the wedding, Abed started behaving very violently towards Noa, even calling her “stinking Jewess…”.
For more than a month she absorbed the violence quietly. After this period of time, Noa decided to contact the Lehavaorganization (for the prevention of assimilation in the Holy Land). During her first phone call, she told her full story to the Lehava representative, while sobbing and expressing the great frustration she was experiencing. But in spite of her contact with Lehava, she still did not agree to leave Abed; she wanted a sympathetic ear, and she was willing to keep in contact by phone only.
After a number of months, during which Noa kept in contact with Anat Gopstein, who heads the treatment department for the girls in Lehava, Noa told Gopstein that she was about to give birth to a son in the near future. After her son was born, Noa agreed to start meeting physically with Gopstein and other Lehava staff at the checkpoint at the entrance to Dahariya.
“She would always come with signs of violence on her body, pale-faced. They saw she was in a depression. She would mainly keep quiet, speaking very little. We hoped she would be willing to take the brave step and leave Dahariya and life with Abed. But she feared taking that step”, one of the Lehava caretakers who met with Noa told Kikar HaShabbat.
The tragic end
But five years later, during which Abed managed to hide the boy a number of times from his mother, the tragic end came. At the end of 2019, she came to the checkpoint for another meeting with a Lehava caretaker. The caretakers who were there at the meeting relate that at that meeting she looked especially terrified, but she refused to say why. For a week after the meeting, the connection with her was cut. She did not answer the phone or messages. The police were updated, and a few days later her body was found in her rented apartment in Beersheba. The circumstances of her death are still under police investigation and the Institute for Forensic Medicine.
What will happen to the Jewish boy?
The wounds created by Noa’s sudden death had still not healed, when the next struggle began: Recall that Noa left behind a 5 y.o. boy. A Jewish boy. Because of Abed’s violence, the court appointed Noa’s parents as apotropus for the child. But Abed is not giving up; he wants the child. The parents insist on leaving the child with them and raising him as a Jewish child, but Abed embarked on a legal battle to raise him as a Muslim child.
Lehava hired a lawyer expert in family law at the parents’ disposal, and are closely following the conduct of the case. The cost of legal expenses is estimated at sums amounting to tens of thousands of shekels, due to the complexity of the case.
The head of Lehava’s department of treatment for the girls, Anat Gopstein, discloses that “this is one of the most difficult and painful cases we’ve dealt with in recent years. In spite of the difficulty in recovering from Noa’s death, which must be investigated by law enforcement authorities in the most professional manner, we have to raise our heads and continue the fight for her son, a Jewish boy torn between his life in Beersheba and his life in Dahariya. These days, which are more open than ever to teshuva, we call on the public to be partners with us in the fight to save the child – and to acquire more merit in preparation for Yom Kippur.”