Thousands March in Beit Ommar

2 February 2008

Friday, February 1, saw one of the largest funeral processions in Beit Ommar in years. Men and women gathered at the main mosque for the funeral of the two men, Mahmoud and Mohamed Sabarna, who were killed while attempting an attack on the nearby settlement Kfar Etzion nearly two weeks ago. The Israeli authorities returned the bodies after holding them for several days, preventing the quick burial prescribed in Islamic (and Jewish) law. Residents marched with the bodies of the two men down to the cemetery, where Israeli Occupation Forces were waiting. As the procession approached the cemetery, which is directly across the street from the Israeli military watchtower and is adjacent to the major road Route 60, soldiers opened fire both from the watchtower and from three jeeps parked on the road. They shot copious amounts of tear gas, live ammunition, and rubber-coated steel bullets into the crowd, without provocation. The procession was forced to use a back road to the cemetery and climb over a small wall to access the gravesites. Meanwhile, approximately 300 youth confronted the soldiers, throwing stones at the watchtower and jeeps. They also erected a makeshift barricade to prevent the soldiers from entering the village and symbolically burned an Israeli flag.
Israeli soldiers then routed the youth and invaded the village with 10 armored vehicles, shooting tear gas, live ammunition, and rubber bullets. 10 youth were injured when they were shot in the legs. They were all taken to the hospital in Hebron. A grenade was also shot through the plastic covering of PSP’s greenhouse, destroying part of the roof.

The support for the two young men who were killed while attacking a settlement was overwhelming. They are considered martyrs–men who were killed while fighting the Israeli Occupation. Though Israeli media portrayed them as young Hamas criminals attacking innocent civilians (they lightly wounded one settler before being killed by other settlers), they were seen by many as resistance fighters who attacked agents of the Israeli Occupation: armed militiamen (settlers) living illegally on stolen land who have spent the better part of 40 years terrorizing the residents of Beit Ommar and other adjacent Palestinian villages while continuing to encroach on their land and strangle their economic viability.

Heroes or not, the mothers of these men deserved to bury them without bullets flying over their heads.