Three Beit Ommar Residents Arrested As Israeli Forces Close Village Streets

25 March 2011

On the afternoon of Wednesday, March 23, 2011 Israeli Defense Forces closed the main entrance to Beit Ommar, following the the injury of two settlers in a confrontation between them and several villagers. Israeli military and police lined Route 60, checking vehicles and papers, and arresting 32-year-old Saddam Hussein Za’aqeeq, who is a local taxi driver. No explanation was given for his arrest.

Around 5:00 pm later that evening, a special unit of armed soldiers in civilian clothes entered the village in a white van with Palestinian license plates, and began firing tear gas and rubber-coated ammunition. They were followed by seven IDF vehicles (jeeps and armored personnel carriers) that entered the village from the west. A few minutes later, a similar detachment of seven soldiers entered the village from the east. The two forces approached the center of town, where they arrested two men, Sohil Brigheth, age 27, and Nabil Hamad Humeidan Abu Maria, age 28. Sohil Brigheth had been injured by IDF soldiers at the main road, and was arrested by the special unit of soldiers as he tried to return to his house. When the arrests were completed, all the military forces left the village.

Volunteers with the Palestine Solidarity Project moved to observe the group of military and police force still gathered near Route 60. One international volunteer was detained and taken to the police station at Karmei Tsur settlement. He was released after to hours. At around 8:30 pm, Israeli Forces opened the main gate to the village, closing it again two hours later. Israeli Police and military stayed at the entrance throughout the night.

The next morning on, Thursday March 24, Israeli police and military forces closed the major entrances to Beit Ommar. Village residents in vehicles were still capable of passing through an alternate way in a gap in a cement roadblock near the cemetery. However, Israeli Forces closed this street by mid-afternoon. By evening, only one road to the village remained open; a forty-five minute detour through the neighboring village of Surif.

Israeli Forces remained at at the main gate near Route 60, checking IDs and vehicles in the rain. One group of women from Beit Ommar were forced to wait in the rain for two hours until soldiers returned their IDs.

As of Friday, March 25, the gate to the village remain closed and all entrance to Beit Ommar blocked. Elsewhere in the West Bank, Israeli Forces arrested Bassem Tamimi, organizer for the Popular Committee in the village of Nabi Saleh. Bassem was placed under arrest prior to a visit with the French Consular General.