Israeli student Aiia Masarwe was on FaceTime with her sister when she was killed in Melbourne.


— With AAP.

A young woman who was killed after alighting a Melbourne tram was ambushed as she was chatting to her sister on a video call.

Aiia Masarwe, who has been in Australia for just six months on a study abroad program, was travelling home from Docklands when she was attacked.

The 21-year-old Arab-Israeli student was found dead on Wednesday morning just a few hundred metres from the Polaris shopping centre.

Aiia’s uncle, Rame Masarwe, has told media that Aiia was speaking to her younger sister on a video call when she suddenly dropped her phone.

“Her sister was on the phone with her, she was on Facetime, and she heard what happened,” Rame said.

“The phone had fallen down, but she heard the voices over the phone.”

After Aiia dropped the phone, her younger sister frantically tried to contact Australian police from overseas.

“We were pretty certain that she was actually involved in a conversation with her sister, who is overseas, at the time that the attack actually took place,” detective inspector Andrew Stamper told reporters.

“The contact that we got [from Aiia’s sister] was at about 7am in the morning, which coincidentally was pretty much at exactly the same time as the deceased was located,” he continued.

“This was an horrendous, horrific attack inflicted on a completely innocent young woman who was a visitor to our city.”


Aiia’s uncle told media he heard of his niece’s death through a phone call from a relative.

“I was in shock, I couldn’t believe it … the day before my wife had said to me, ‘We’ll have to go to Australia, Australia’s very safe, very nice’,” he said, ABC reports.

“We cannot believe that something like this happened in Australia, we think it’s very safe there,” he continued.

It’s believed Aiia was studying English in a study abroad program at La Trobe University.

Aiia’s uncle Rame told media that his niece was a very happy, adventurous person.

“She was a very good person, she was a very happy person … she was adventurous, she was smart, she was silly,” he said.

“She liked to discover new things, see new places. She travelled all over the world.”

Aya Masarwe Facebook photo
Student Aya Masarwe. Image: Facebook.

Aiia's father has left Israel for Melbourne in a bid to coordinate her body’s return home.

Police are investigating all lines of inquiry, including whether the attack was random and if Ms Masarwe was followed.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos says there will be an increased police presence in Bundoora to reassure the community as the investigation is under way.

“It is a terrible tragedy, what has occurred,” she told reporters.

“That is a part of my own electorate and I know that tram line very well.

“As a government, we will do whatever is required to support this woman’s family and friends and I extend my sympathy to her family and friends at this terrible, terrible time.”