Ramle teacher, killed by stray bullet, had prepared balloons for her students

Hours before she was slain, Sharifa Abu Muammar wrote to other teaching staff that coming year should be ‘happy and blessed’

Screen capture from video of a picture of Sharifa Abu Muammar displayed on the gates of the school where she taught, September 1, 2020. (Channel 12)
Screen capture from video of a picture of Sharifa Abu Muammar displayed on the gates of the school where she taught, September 1, 2020. (Channel 12)

A teacher who was killed by a stray bullet Monday, apparently fired during a clash between rival crime families, had just finished preparing for the coming school year, including decorating her classroom and wrapping personalized gifts for her students, according to Hebrew media reports.

Sharifa Abu Muammar, 30, a mother of four, was shot while hanging laundry out to dry, during a gunfight between the groups in the central town of Ramle.

She was rushed in critical condition to the nearby Yitzhak Shamir Medical Center, where doctors pronounced her dead.

Just two hours before she died, Muammar wrote on a WhatsApp group for staff at the school were she taught, “A happy and blessed new year for everyone, love and appreciate you.”

Sharifa Abu Muammar (Dror High School)

Earlier she had prepared a display of balloons in the classroom where she was supposed to teach and laid out packages addressed to each one of her pupils.

Abu Muammar taught Arabic at Dror High School, a school for at-risk youth. The school merges conventional education with technical training; most of its students are Muslim Bedouins from poor communities.

The school network said in a statement, “Sharifa was a social coordinator at the school and a loved and cherished educator for the past seven years.

“Sharifa was a teacher dedicated to her work, to her pupils and the staff, full of life, creativity and initiative,” the statement said and noted that she was scheduled to have begun teaching an 11th grade class with the opening of the school year on Tuesday.

Police arrested three people Tuesday morning over the incident, and they were remanded at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court.

The three are residents of Ramle and the adjacent city of Lod, aged 25, 26 and 30, according to the Israel Police.

The 26-year-old is suspected of firing the shot while the other two are suspected of assisting him to get away afterwards, Channel 12 news reported.

The police investigation is ongoing, but officers reportedly believe the incident is linked to a triple murder three months ago near Lod and to a dispute between crime families in Ramle’s Jawarish neighborhood.

MK Yousef Jabareen of the predominantly-Arab Joint List party, tweeted that Arab society has become “a bleeding arena, the government continues to procrastinate and ignore, and we are counting more and more bodies.”

He called for funding a program to counter the violence and crime in Arab society.

Abu Muammar is the 56th murder victim among Arab Israelis this year. While 2019 saw violence reach record highs in Arab towns and villages, 2020 seems set to be still bloodier.

Arab lawmakers and activists say that the violence stems from willful neglect by police of the spread of organized crime in their communities.

“The police are now saying they will respond by sending more patrols [to] the area. But it’s not just about that. It’s about gathering illegal weapons. It’s about how even Arab mayors and city council members are being shot at and threatened by organized crime while the police do nothing,” Ramle city council member Ibrahim Badawiyeh told The Times of Israel.

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