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PA absent from funeral of man hailed as 'symbol of steadfastness'

Aug. 7, 2011 4:30 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 8, 2011 11:29 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Former Bethlehem governor Salah Tamari expressed disappointment on Sunday that Palestinian Authority officials did not attend the funeral of Hajj Ibrahim Atallah, who he praised as "a symbol of Palestinian steadfastness."

Hajj Ibrahim Atallah remained in Zakariyya, a small hamlet built on his land, until his death aged 101.

He managed to stay in Zakariyya, south Bethlehem despite huge pressure from Israeli forces and settlers as the Gush Etzion settlement block was being built nearby.

Shortly before his death Atallah dug a grave near Israel's separation wall bordering his land and told his sons to bury him there "no matter what," relatives said.

Tamari said no PA officials took part in Atallah's funeral, "not even a representative of Bethlehem governor’s office despite the fact that the deceased deserves to be awarded the Jerusalem decoration more than many businessmen and officials who were given that decoration."

Mourners from neighboring villages and across the Bethlehem district joined the funeral procession.

Atallah's son also criticized PA officials for their absence.

"Settlers from Etzion came to express condolences, but Palestinian officials did not," he said.
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