Three Palestinian men were shot in Vermont on December 2 in what authorities are calling a hate crime. The Burlington Police Department issued a press release saying the three men were in stable condition after a gunman shot at them four times without speaking and then fled on foot. All three victims are 20 years old and were visiting relatives in the area.
Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said, “No one can look at this incident and not suspect that it may have been a hate-motivated crime,” adding that the case had been passed to federal investigators. Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said the incident was “chilling” and pledged to “work relentlessly to bring the shooter to justice.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced it would offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the assailant, who is described as “white,” but authorities have not released further details.
The three victims were all students in Burlington and have been identified as Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid, and Tahseen Ahmed, who are believed to be from Ramallah in the West Bank. Reports suggest that the students were wearing keffiyehs – scarves that signal support for Palestinians – at the time of the shooting.
The FBI has reported a 60% spike in hate crimes in the United States since the war in the Middle East began on October 7. FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress on December 5 that the majority of cases were antisemitic and targeted American Jews. Testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr. Wray said America is experiencing “historic” levels of anti-Jewish sentiment and Jews are “uniquely targeted by pretty much every terrorist organization across the spectrum.”
In the weeks following the outbreak of the conflict, the Anti-Defamation League, a group that fights antisemitism in America, reported a 388% increase in anti-Jewish incidents throughout the US. CAIR said it received 774 reports of “biased incidents” – up from 224 for the same period last year.