Julie Pearson - British Girl murdered in Eilat, Israel. Family fight on for justice and to bring suspect to trial
If the State had accepted her genuine application to make Aliya, would Julie be alive today?
As so many Jews are struggling to be given their ‘right to return’ and face endless bureaucracy to live in Israel, one young woman gave her all to have the right to live in the homeland of her grandmother. Now she is dead. The story may have been different. Many Jews are struggling to eat and live in the land of their dreams, discovering that the land of milk and honey is not delivering on it’s word. One such woman was Julie Pearson. So determined was she to stay in Israel, that her story turned into a tragedy.
Last November Julie Pearson was found dead. Many stories were published about her, as the family have pressed on for justice for almost a year.
Following a post mortem released in July, the Israeli forensic department claimed Julie had some rare disorder which caused her to die. Nothing to do with the brutal beating she received at the hands of a former boyfriend the day before. Merely a spontaneous internal bruising.
Rumours abound - that Julie was an alcoholic or deadbeat, or the attacker was/is a police informer. But what is clear is that this family have no closure. The case is still open but with no further investigation. Until the case is closed, they are not able to access all the information inside the file. But this is a chicken and egg, because once closed, how can they act on the information?
Currently the family in Scotland are fundraising to pay a lawyer in Eilat to keep working for them. Julie’s father is in Eilat once more. It is the first visit since his daughter’s death. John Pearson is determined to fight on and get answers. Most Israelis know the fight for justice is a hard if not impossible road. But Deborah Pearson – Julies’ Aunt has no intention of stopping.
The pain of the family’s ordeal is clear in this interview she gave to me:
"Julies story starts with her grandmother ( my mum) who is Jewish and was born in israel. She met my dad who was in the British army and a Scot in israel in 1946 and they married in Jerusalem. John was born in Jerusalem after which they came to Scotland to live when he was two years old. So Julie is Jewish. She went to Eilat in September 2014. After 3 months her visa expired, but she didn't want to come back to Scotland. She wanted to stay in Israel and make Aliya because her father was born there. So many times she went to 'Misrad Hapnim' (Immigration office) with her paperwork. But they refused her over and over demanding more paperwork. She actually was arrested for overstaying, but the office released her on the condition she got a letter from a Rabbi in Scotland. He was unable to provide what they needed. In September 2015 she went again with her father John. "
So, she tried everything she could to make Aliya? It seems despite a Jewish grandmother they wouldn't accept her? She clearly wanted to live in Israel as an Israeli.
"Yes, very much. She had a boyfriend by then - not a good man for her. His name is Amjad Hatib. In May 2015 he was arrested for beating her. He was locked up for one month and then released. Somehow he persuaded her to go back to him and she took him back. Clearly by this time she was still overstaying and trying to make her Aliya.
On the evening of 26 November he beat her badly and her friend too. The friend called the police who came to the house they lived in and took Julie and her friend both to her friends house. To this day I don't know why they didn't take them both to the hospital. The next morning Julie went the next day to visit a friend at a guest house in Eilat; collapsed and died, which was 27 November 2015."
The family were NOT informed of her death by the Police in Eilat, nor the British Embassy. They heard it a few days later from another friend.
Deborah continues. "The next day the police went to her friend's house and took her to the police station in Eilat where they informed her that Julie had died. No one called the embassy or any family members in Scotland to report Julie's death. I got a call from another of Julie's friends on 30th November to tell me that Julie had died. It was me who had to inform Julie's mum and dad. I called the British Embassy to report her death and this was the beginning of learning about all the lies and cover ups to this very day.
I found out that the Eilat police lied; they said that they reported her death to their headquarters but later on they admitted that they never reported it to anyone; (I have the email to prove it) they said it was human error on the Eilat officers' part, which I think is totally unacceptable. Amjad Hatib was arrested on the 8th December and questioned about beating her the night before she died, which he denied, despite the other girl who was both a witness and beaten too. The Police didn't even take the statement seriously or consider it.
First of all I'll show you the picture of how Julie was repatriated back to the uk from israel. The Forensic Institute say she died of natural causes. This is her face after putting make up on in the morgue, so you can imagine how her face was without make up. Also her whole body was covered in bruises; she collapsed and died a day after being beaten by her boyfriend who is a Palestinian Arab from East Jerusalem who lives in Eilat and to this day he walks free in Eilat and has never been charged with anything. This is what we are fighting for, our family and for justice."
The police statements Deborah provides indicate that violence never caused Julie's death. They are unable to share their initial report. Yet the autopsy was only released in July 2016. In that report, it was said that they couldn't rule out the beating contributed to or accelerated her death.
Julie was already overstaying in Israel. The police knew who she was, due to her previous report against her boyfriend. Also on the last night she was alive. They admitted human error in not notifying the British Embassy or the family in Scotland. Doctors in Abu Kabir in Tel Aviv are also prepared to testify that Julie's beating could have contributed to her death.
The police did witness Julie and her friend on the night of the attack?
"Yes of course, or how could they know Julie was dead and where to go to tell her friend. After Amjad was arrested, he was held for two or three days and then released. The police told us Julie's death had not been connected to the beating. This was released to the family on 30th December. This was almost a month after he was taken for questioning. We were informed that Amjad was ordered to leave Eilat for 30 days or he wouldn't be released. We were then told he refused these conditions, but they released him anyway! Now he is a free man walking around Eilat. How could the police say this in December when we only received the autopsy report 6 weeks ago? It's lie after lie. It is almost a year, and there is no further investigation, and they haven't closed the case. We are left in limbo."
Deborah Pearson with Susan Boyle - who is supporting the family.
Following several articles in Israel, the comments made by Israelis included:
“The State of Israel has become the dustbin of the world! All the murderers, criminals, drug addicts, alcoholics, unemployed, homeless, etc. come to Israel live at the expense of the taxpayer only trouble they cause us”
“So many bad Israelis, appeared in one story Just sad.”
“Local police terrible, worse The last of the offenders. Someone may have paid money here and probably a lot .. and if not then give a satisfactory explanation to the British.”
“Maybe the policeman killed her”
“State of Shame”
“What is it natural? It is very natural young girls die suddenly swollen and filled with injuries from a beating”
“right! And very natural girl suddenly died from bleeding in the abdomen which suddenly popped up out of nowhere. It is clear that the bleeding caused by blows. And the UK are not used lax Israeli police”
“Clearly she was murdered! The state simply gives shelter to the murderers. Shame”
“The poor girl was murdered. And the subject is paralyzed and covered up in order not to scare tourists”
“right - Why investigate and get to the truth if you can hide it ???”
Today John Pearson spoke to me from Eilat. “The police won’t speak to me anymore. They keep sending me away saying they don’t speak English. But I speak Hebrew too! I have been given the cold shoulder by all the authorities since I arrived. We want Amjad Hatib to be questioned by a judge in the courts, but we cannot even get a picture of him. He lives in the Aleph/Sing Sing part of Eilat and people are afraid to get his photo. The police will have one but will not co operate with me. I am trying to get a full investigation into Julie’s death and all we face is a wall. The corruption is clear, but we won’t give up.”
Israelis themselves are well aware of police corruption and cover ups. The scandals fill social media and news almost daily. Roman Zadorov is a current example of how the police work in Israel. Ordinary citizens face criminal charges for next to nothing, and criminals go free. Meanwhile the Pearson family are organising fundraising for their Israeli lawyer; and asking the public in Israel if anyone can provide a photograph of who they believe is the main suspect in Julie’s death.
Justice will be a long hard battle but this Scottish family is going to meet the obstacles every step of the way and for as long as it will take.