Mourners gather for Aiia’s final homecoming
AIIA Maasarwe is being laid to rest in her home town in Israel tonight where thousands of people are gathering in the streets and at the local mosque to bid a final farewell.
In heartbreaking scenes outside the family home, neighbours, friends and family members wept and offered prayers as Aiia's body arrived in a blue and white ambulance.
Police closed the roads as the residents walked to the Maasarwe home to await the arrival of Aiia's body from Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.
Across the Arabic town of Baqa al-Gharibbye, large black signs were hung on walls which read "God have mercy on Aiia.''
The 21-year-old international languages student, who was killed in Melbourne last Wednesday after getting off a tram near La Trobe University at Bundoora, was accompanied by her father Saeed on her final journey home.
Aiia had arrived at the home in a dark mahogany coffin ... inside she was transferred to a simple casket made of light wood and draped in a carpet for her journey to the cemetery.
Baqa al-Gharibyye is a prosperous town built on a hillside in northern Israel and prayers from the mosque nearest her home rang out across the town as Aiia's procession made its way through the streets.
Aiia's father Saeed, who had shown such grace in his time of intense grief in Melbourne, was composed as he followed his beloved daughter down the street.
Two relatives supported him by the arms and police, an ambulance and security officers came behind.
Mr Maasarwe said: "I just want to thank everyone for coming and supporting us."
Aiia's grandmother added: "everyone protect your children".
The Maasarwes form a large and well-respected family and their community was determined to offer support and respect.
A sign on the family home urged people to stop "cutting flowers'' - a message condemning violence against women.
Another large sign written in Arabic said simply "grief.''
Aiia's mother Khitam, and her three sisters Noor, Roba and Lena, were among the mourners.
One of her uncles, Abed Ali Kattani, quoted from the Koran, and said only Allah (God) knew on what day and in what land a person may find their death.
He said the family prayed Aiia's soul would be at rest, and that an "horrific tragedy'' had fallen on their beautiful daughter, sister and niece.
Mr Kattani said Aiia had died "in exile, at the peak of her fertility and blossom'' and the family mourned her deeply.
Prayers were due to be held at the Al-Tzarat Mosque and a slow procession planned though the streets to the cemetery where Aiia was to be laid to rest.
The women of Aiia's family joined her sister and mother inside the house to mourn, while outside, men and boys wore t-shirts that spelled her name in Arabic script, Aiia.