A mural in the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm depicting three men who carried out a fatal shooting on the Temple Mount in 2017 was painted over by undercover police officers on Saturday night, residents and police sources said.
An eyewitness said that he saw a civilian van pull up to the painted wall in the northern city, from which four undercover policemen emerged, covered up the mural and left shortly after.
The mural, which was painted in the end of May, bore the portraits of Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed Jabareen, Mohammed Hamed Abd Al-Latif Jabareen and Mohammed Ahmed Mafdal Jabareen, all residents of Umm al-Fahm.
"The police asked me to cover up the mural," said Umm al-Fahm Mayor Samir Mahameed, "but according to legal advice that I've received, the municipality was not authorized to do so since the mural is painted on a private wall."
Police said that they "began dialogue efforts with the local authority and senior officials in the city to remove" the mural, before removing it themselves when locals chose not to.
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"We are sorry that instead of criticizing the very existence of the mural, which celebrates terrorists in the heart of a city in Israel, the system chooses to criticize police activity on the matter," they added.
In July 2017, the three arrived separately at one of the Temple Mount complex’s gates, and opened fire at policemen standing guard there, killing two Israeli police officers from the Druze community, Advanced Staff Sgt. Maj. Hael Sathawi, 30, and Advanced Staff Sgt. Maj. Kamil Shanan, 22.
The assailants escaped in the direction of the mosques in the compound. They were pursued, shot and killed by officers, police said, adding that two rifles and a pistol were found on their bodies.
The mural was painted by activists from the al-Hiraq al-Shababi movement, which led the protests in the city during the May war in Gaza. It also depicted Mohammed Kiwan, who was killed in clashes with police during the war, and Ahmed Mahameed, who was shot by police while trying to stab an officer in Jerusalem in 2018.
On Saturday, during the ceremony marking 21 years to the October 2000 unrest in which 13 young Arabs were killed by police, the five subjects of the mural were memorialized. The families of the policemen murdered by the men depicted in the painting had condemned it and requested from police officials that it be covered up.