Beit Ommar National Committee Member, 4 Others Arrested
Just before 1am Friday morning 8 Israeli military Armoured Personnel Carriers entered Beit Ommar and began a series of raids into Palestinian homes. An international eyewitness of the first arrest of Yousef Sabarneh reports:
“At 00:50am a convoy of 8 Israeli Armoured Personnel Carriers and jeeps screeched to a halt outside the home of the Sabarneh family in Beit Ommar. Armed soldiers surrounded the house and spotlights from the military vehicles lit up the 3 story house. The family were given 2 minutes to leave the building by an Israeli soldiers shouting in Arabic over a loudspeaker. After the warning expired stun grenades were thrown through the closed windows of the first floor where the family had gathered. Shortly afterwards the stunned family members emerged into the cold night in their pyjamas to machine guns pointed in their faces and were made to lift their tops. Yousef Sabarneh, 19 years old, was then cuffed, blindfolded and bundled into the back of an APC.”
The convoy then headed to the central mosque where a second house was targeted and another arrest was made. Yousef’s relatives Hattam Sabarneh, 17, and Khalil Sabarneh, 24 were also arrested.
The Israeli soldiers also threw stones through the windows of the Sabarneh home. As PSP co-founder Mousa Abu Maria pointed out, “when Palestinians throw stones, they arrest us, and then they do the same thing, damaging our homes.”
Ahmed Abu Hashem (also known as Ahmed Abu Maria, a long-time volunteer with PSP and Beit Ommar National Committee member) was also arrested from his home. Yousef Awad, 17, was the 5th person taken during the raid.
Beit Ommar, always a target of the Israeli military, has been experiencing increased repression since it began holding some of their regular demonstrations on a major West Bank highway, Route 60. In retaliation, last week the military closed all of the entrances to Beit Ommar for 5 days, not allowing any vehicular traffic from Beit Ommar, Saffa, or Sourif to access routes to Bethelem or Hebron, the major city centers. The closure affected more than 30,000 people from Beit Ommar and the surrounding villages.
The regular Saturday demonstration will continue as planned, with a special theme in solidarity with Ahmed.