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Woman Charged With Attempted Murder of Palestinian American Child in Texas

The Council on American-Islamic Relations says the incident was part of an increase in anti-Muslim hate since October.

Two kids hold signs reading "STOP KILLING CHILDREN" and "FREE PALESTINE" during an outdoor protest in Istanbul, Turkey, on June 1, 2024.

A 42-year-old white woman has been charged with attempted murder and injury to a child following her attempt to drown a 3-year-old Palestinian-American in the pool of a Euless, Texas apartment complex last month, according to CNN and other media outlets.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest civil rights and advocacy group in the United States, called for a hate crime investigation at a press conference Saturday and warned that the incident was part of an alarming increase in anti-Muslim hate since the war in Gaza began in October.

“My country is facing a war, and we are facing that hate here,” the 3-year-old’s mother, identified only as Mrs. H. due to safety concerns, said in a statement from CAIR’s Texas chapter. “My daughter is traumatized. Whenever I open the apartment door, she runs away and hides, telling me she is afraid the lady will come and immerse her head in the water again.”

According to CAIR’s account and media reports of the May 19 incident, Elizabeth Wolf, a 42-year-old white woman, allegedly approached Mrs. H. making racist interrogations about what country the family was from and the foreign language they were speaking. Mrs. H., a 32-year-old Palestinian-American woman, was wearing a hijab as she watched her two children play in the shallow end of the pool.

Wolf jumped into the pool and tried to drag the two children to the deep end. The elder of the two escaped, but Wolf allegedly held the 3-year-old child’s head underwater. When Mrs. H. tried to intercede, Wolf allegedly took the hijab and tried to beat Mrs. H. with it, and also kicked her to keep her away as she attacked the child. A man then rescued the child.

Wolf was initially arrested for public intoxication and was released on bond the next day. She has since been charged with attempted murder and injury to a child, according to CNN. Wolf has again been released on bail after paying at least $40,000 in bond fees.

Though the incident took place over a month ago, it began to draw noticeable media coverage only on Friday, when CAIR drew attention to the fact that the 3-year-old victim was Muslim — and called for a hate crime investigation.

“We ask for a hate crime probe, a higher bail bond, and an open conversation with officials to address this alarming increase in Islamophobia, anti-Arab, and anti-Palestinian sentiment,” Shaimaa Zayan, a CAIR operations manager, said in the CAIR statement.

A CAIR civil rights report documented a marked surge in complaints of anti-Muslim hate in late 2023, as the war in Gaza began. Anti-semitic incidents in the U.S. also spiked during the same period, according to the Anti-Defamation League, a pro-Israel advocacy group, Reuters reported. More than 37,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed during the war, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, following the killing of more than 1,100 Israelis on October 7.

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