Grave of woman as dug up and remains removed as part of search
- By Nasouh Nazzal
Ramallah: A woman’s grave was dug up by Israeli occupation soldiers in a hunt for evidence as part of a raid on the town of Yatta, south of Hebron.
In an incident which provoked night clashes between the town’s residents and the large Israeli force that had raided the town, at least 30 Palestinians were injured by rubber coated bullets and tear gas bombs and one seriously injured.
Twelve year old Mohammad Kamal Abu Qabtiah was rushed to hospital and placed in the intensive care unit in critical condition.
A large number of Israeli military forces and Special Forces raided Yatta to arrest the 42 year old disabled man Yousef Ebrahim Al Nawaja’a. The occupation forces searched Yousef’s house and shop but did not appear to have found anything. They then turned to a nearby cemetery, located Yousef’s mother’s grave, and begun digging it up.
“Yousef’s mother died more than 30 years ago, but the Israeli military forces did not show any respect to her grave or dead body,” Zahran Abu Qabitia, Yatta’s former Mayor, told Gulf News.
The occupation forces removed the mother’s remains before carefully beginning a search of the grave.
Yatta’s move provoked hundreds Yatta residents to protest the desecration of the grave, trying force the Israeli soldiers to leave the site. Serious clashes erupted and the occupation soldiers fired rubber coated bullets and tear gas bombs at the demonstrators.
The Israeli forces then called for backup and split into two groups with one team continuing the digging while the rest confronted the angry demonstrators.
“The Yatta residents did not have a problem with the arrest of Yousef and the Israeli military usually raid the town for arrests, but the grave digging has angered the residents,” he said.
Red Crescent ambulances and those of Hebron local hospitals rushed the wounded Palestinians to the various hospitals to receive treatment. Several women were also hospitalized after they inhaled tear gas.
An Israeli soldier fired a tear gas cannister from a short range directly at the head of Mohammad Kamal Abu Qabtia. The boy was rushed to Abu Al Hassan Al Qassem Hospital and then to Hebron Public Hospital and later Al Mizan Hospital. The three hospitals described his condition as critical.
Later at night, the soldiers arrested Yousef on his wheelchair, and withdrew from Yatta, leaving the remains of his dead mother hastily buried shallow in the grave. Residents rushed to the scene and reburied her.
Abu Qabtia said that Yousef was seriously injured during Al Aqsa Uprising of 2001 following which he was taken to Iraq and Iran for treatment.
Upon his return from treatment, Israel denied him re-entry into the West Bank until human rights organisations intervened. Yousef had earlier been arrested by the Israeli forces and spent a year in prison.