Vigils for slain Arab-Israeli student held in Melbourne and northern Israel


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hundreds of people gathered in the Arab city of Baqa al-Gharbiya in northern Israel to call for the timely return of the body of a hometown woman murdered in Australia.

Aiia Maasarwe, 21, was killed early Wednesday morning in Melbourne, and her body was discovered hours later.

Demonstrators at the rally in Israel on Saturday accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the government of not doing enough to return the woman’s body.

Maasarwe, an exchange student at La Trobe University in Melbourne for the past five months from Shanghai University in China, had been on a Facetime video call with her sister late on Tuesday evening, when it was interrupted. The phone was knocked from Maasarwe’s hand and her sister heard screaming, according to reports.

Codey Herrmann, 20, a rapper who performs as MC Codez, was arrested on Friday and charged on Saturday in Melbourne Magistrates Court with murder and rape.

Several vigils have been held in Melbourne for the murdered Israeli woman.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his family visited a memorial set up in Melbourne where Maasarwe’s body was found. He later met with the woman’s father, who is in Australia to identify her body and bring it home.

Demonstrators on Saturday in Israel criticized Netanyahu for not meeting with Maasarwe’s family. The Foreign Ministry has said that it is working to return of the body as soon as the Victorian Coroner and Australian police release it. The Australian Broadcast Corporation reported that the body would be released Monday afternoon.

In Islam, a body must be buried as soon as possible after death.

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