Thousands Attend Memorial for Teen Murdered in Galilee Village

Residents from area communities remember the 17-year-old high school student and rally against violence.

Members of the Druze community gather in the village of Kisra to commemorate 17-year-old Wijdan Abu Hamid, December 28, 2016.
Gil Eliahu

Thousands turned out Wednesday for a memorial ceremony in honor of Wijdan Abu Hamid, a 17-year-old high school student who was murdered last week in the Druze village of Kisra in northern Israel.

Residents of the Kisra Samia community and many other Druze villages in Upper Galilee and Mount Carmel attended the ceremony in the village's main square, holding photographs of Abu Hamid and carrying signs against violence. Some wore shirts with a printed photo of the teenager.

Abu Hamid was murdered in a park only 100 meters from her home. A gag order has been placed on the details of the murder investigation.

A number of violent incidents have occurred in the community, a local council made up of the two separate villages of Kisra and Samia. In the latest, a grenade was thrown at a house in Samia last Wednesday night, at the same time as Abu Hamid’s funeral was underway. A man in his 30s from Kisra was arrested on suspicion of throwing the grenade.

On Friday evening, a small fire broke out in the yard of the high school Abu Hamid had attended. Local residents say the fire was set by students from the school who were angry over the way the administration handled the matter. A tire was set on fire and the blaze spread to a garden but was quickly put out before it reached any buildings. No one has been arrested for the incident.

At the memorial ceremony, Nebia Assad, the head of the local council, spoke out against violence and incitement on social networking sites and promised to help the family in every way possible. The spiritual leader of Israel’s Druze community, Sheikh Muwafak Tarif, also addressed the gathering, as did leading Druze politicians and Abu Hamid's father.

The murdered teenager's 10-year-old sister, Widian Abu Hamid, also spoke at the memorial ceremony. She cried, and the crowd cried with her: “My sister, may God keep you ... I am asking him to give me the strength and promise I will never forget you. Wijdan, goodbye. Maybe we will meet at a later time ... My heart is burned and torn because of the separation from you.”

Numerous posters against violence were put up around the village, and other protests were held over the past week. A march against violence took place Friday afternoon in Kisra, with over 1,000 participating.

The march was spontaneous and had been organized by young people who mobilized others to come via Facebook, Assad told Haaretz.