Hate crime or isolated incident? Texas woman charged with attempted murder of Palestinian-American child

A shocking case in Euless, Texas, where a woman attempted to drown a 3-year-old Palestinian-American child, has sparked demands for a hate crime investigation amid rising anti-Muslim sentiments.

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A shocking case in Euless, Texas, has drawn nationwide attention after a 42-year-old white woman, Elizabeth Wolf, was charged with attempted murder and injury to a child following an attack on a 3-year-old Palestinian-American girl. The incident occurred at an apartment complex pool, where Wolf allegedly attempted to drown the child, raising concerns about rising anti-Muslim sentiments.

On May 19, Mrs. H., a 32-year-old Palestinian-American woman, was watching her two children play in the shallow end of the pool when Wolf approached her. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and media reports, Wolf began making racist interrogations about the family’s origins and the foreign language they were speaking. Mrs. H., who was wearing a hijab, described Wolf’s escalating aggression, culminating in a violent attack.

Wolf allegedly jumped into the pool and tried to drag the two children to the deep end. While the elder child managed to escape, Wolf held the 3-year-old’s head underwater. Mrs. H. attempted to intervene, but Wolf reportedly grabbed her hijab and used it to beat her, kicking her to keep her away from the child. The situation was defused when a man intervened and rescued the child from the pool.

Police responded to the disturbance, initially arresting Wolf for public intoxication. She was released on bond the following day. As the case garnered more attention, Wolf faced additional charges of attempted murder and injury to a child, and was again released on bail after paying at least $40,000 in bond fees.

Mrs. H. shared her traumatic experience through a statement released by 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,” she said. This statement underscores the lasting impact of the attack on the young victim and her family.

The incident, initially overlooked by the media, gained significant attention when CAIR called for a hate crime investigation. Shaimaa Zayan, CAIR’s Austin operations manager, highlighted the broader context of the attack, stating, “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.”

CAIR’s call for a hate crime investigation aligns with their recent civil rights report, which documented a marked surge in complaints of anti-Muslim hate in late 2023. This rise in hate incidents coincides with the war in Gaza, where over 37,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The Anti-Defamation League also reported a spike in anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. during this period.

The Euless Police Department confirmed the sequence of events leading to Wolf’s arrest. Witnesses described her as “very intoxicated” and aggressive towards Mrs. H. and her children. Wolf’s racist remarks and physical assault against Mrs. H. and her children were pivotal in the police’s decision to file charges beyond public intoxication.

CAIR’s advocacy extends beyond this single incident, reflecting a broader mission to protect and support Muslim communities facing discrimination and violence. Texas Rep. Salman Bhojani expressed his shock and concern over the incident, stating, “Hate has no place in Euless, District 92, or anywhere in our great state. I want to thank Euless PD for quickly apprehending the alleged provocateur, and I extend my service to the affected family.”

The legal proceedings against Wolf are ongoing. The charges of attempted murder and injury to a child carry significant penalties, and the possibility of designating the incident as a hate crime could influence the severity of her sentencing. Wolf’s ability to post bail has raised questions about the adequacy of legal protections for victims of hate crimes and the accountability of perpetrators.

The broader implications of this case are profound, highlighting the intersection of local violence and global conflict. As Mrs. H.’s stated, “We are American citizens, originally from Palestine, and I don’t know where to go to feel safe with my kids.”

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