Anger and heartache gripped the Sarsur family of Kafr Kasim on Monday, the day
after police arrested Mahmoud Sarsur in connection with the brutal murder of his
10-year-old son Anas last week.
“The family has suffered two murders;
first Anas was murdered and now a second time when police arrested Mahmoud,”
Mahmoud Sarsur’s brother Muhammad said at the family home in Kafr Kasim
Muhammad and several other mourners at the Sarsur house said they
have no faith in the police investigation, and are certain that police arrested
Mahmoud only after the real killer’s trail ran cold.
“Just days before
the murder Mahmoud was at a wedding with Anas and his boys, and you could see
him hugging and kissing them, he loved him so much, he would’ve laid down his
life for him,” Muhammad said.
He added that after previous murder
investigations in the city were closed by police with no arrests made, locals
have little trust left in them.
The three-story Sarsur family home lies
down a dirt path near the entrance of the village.
By Monday afternoon
the family had already broken down the mourners tent that had been set up after
Sarsur’s body was found Friday morning, but around two dozen of Anas’s relatives
and loved ones sat and drank coffee on the plastic chairs that remained in the
family’s courtyard and a vacant lot next door.
Extended family members
vowed to maintain a vigil outside the house until Mahmoud is freed, but Muhammad
admitted they have not yet planned what they will do if he remains in jail after
Within steps of the family home is the small olive grove where
Anas’s body was found Friday. Mohammed pointed at a depression in the ground
under an olive tree where he said Anas was left dying Thursday night. Splotches
of blood remained on a cinderblock under the tree and the grass was stamped down
where Anas tried to crawl for help before he bled to death, Muhammad said.
“This is something we’ve never had in the village before,
it makes no sense. How someone could have this much hate, this much anger
towards a child – there’s no explanation for it,” Muhammad said.
Sarsur family is one of the five major families in the city of around 20,000
outside Rosh Ha’ayin in central Israel. Police said Sunday that there had never
been any domestic violence complaints against Mahmoud, nor had his family been
visited by social services before the murder.
On Monday the Ramle
Magistrate’s Court extended Mahmoud Sarsur’s remand until Thursday. A spokesman
for the Central District Police, whose branch of the YAMAR special investigative
unit is handling the case, said Monday that in the course of investigating the
case, they had received information which caused them to suspect that Mahmoud
played a role in his son’s death, leading them to push for a remand extension.
The spokesman added that police are still examining other scenarios and possible
When Anas went missing Thursday evening, his father called
police and officers and local residents began combing the village for any sign
of him. Only hours later did they find his body, covered with signs of violence,
only meters from his home.
A short drive uphill from the Sarsur home
towards the village center lies Kafr Kasim’s community center. Ola Amer, manager
of the center, said local educators and social workers attended an emergency
meeting on Saturday where they discussed ways to answer questions students may
have following the crime.
“With all the rumors circling around the
village, it helps for the kids to have a trusted figure like a teacher, who can
talk to them and tell them that everything’s okay,” Amer said, adding that the
murder has also had an effect on parents – many of whom have kept their children
at home in recent days, afraid there could be a killer loose in the
Amer said the children who come to the after-school programs are
basically split into two groups in relation to the crime. Relatives or
classmates of Anas, many of whom are deeply traumatized by the crime, comprise
one group, and children who did not know Anas and “just want to be given a game
or a computer and they’ll be fine,” make up the other.
Amer then pointed
at a schedule book for an after-school chess club that was supposed to start
today, which Anas had signed up for.
“We canceled the class; none of the
students wanted to show up,” Amer said.