Beit Ummar residents say town under siege

April 17, 2011

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces erected checkpoints around the town of Beit Ummar Sunday afternoon, and carried out several home invasions, delivering summons to appear for questioning to at least one resident, locals said.

Town activist Mohammad Ayyad Awwad told Ma’an that the measures came as part of an increase in restrictions and harassment against residents, and following the construction of a fence along the southern side of the village, restricting movement of residents and caging them into the town center.

Beit Ummar, north of Hebron in the southern West Bank, has been increasingly targeted by Israeli forces in the past weeks, Awwad said.

On Sunday, Awwad said several troops of Israeli soldiers entered the town, and broke into the homes of several residents, including former prisoner in Israel Yousef Ahmad Rashed Sabarneh, 23. The young man had been released only 25 days earlier following a five-year term.

The home of the town mayor was also entered, Awwad said, adding that Mayor Nasri Sabaraneh’s 19-year-old son was handed a summons to appear before Israeli intelligence officials for unknown reasons.

The home of Jamil Mahmoud A’lqam was searched twice within the space of 30 minutes, Awwad added.

Searches lasted for hours, Awwad said, effectively putting the residents under a curfew as they feared to leave homes.

All those entering or exiting the town during the operation were subject to searches, and had their identity cards checked, he said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman looked into the report, and said the operation was “routine activity.”

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