Beit Ummar: Rest in Peace?


by Doug Pritchard

On January 25, CPT Hebron received news that two Palestinians from Beit Ummar, closely related to friends of the team, were killed when they invaded a school library in the adjacent settlement of Gush Etzion.

The two cousins, Mahmoud and Muhammed Sabarnah, both 21, armed with a gun and a knife, stabbed an Israeli student, who also pulled a gun.  A school counselor then shot the two Palestinians.

When Israeli authorities released the bodies for burial, residents of Beit Ummar worried that the Israeli military would disrupt the funeral.  Six internationals, including CPTers Tarek Abuata and Doug Pritchard, positioned themselves near the front of the funeral procession of 3,000 mourners.

As the procession came within sight of route #60 and the final approach to the cemetery, Israeli soldiers, without any provocation or warning, began firing on the mourners, first with live ammunition, then with plastic bullets, tear gas, and concussion grenades.

Some mourners hurriedly carried the bodies of the Sabarnah men along a back route to the cemetery, but  soldiers arrived and ordered them to leave immediately.  After a hasty burial prayer, the family and remaining mourners returned to the street.

Israeli jeeps then began moving up the street, firing as they came.  Palestinians fled into side streets.  For the next three hours, military patrols spread through the town, continuing to fire on small groups of retreating Palestinians, some of whom threw stones in return.

By the end of the afternoon, the violence had left fourteen Palestinians injured.