Soldiers fire indiscriminately at Demonstrators in Hebron on Friday

Friday’s Open Shuhada Street demonstration is described perfectly here.

Please watch the short film. Those who know me may even catch a glimpse.

Some information I received from a coaltion in Hebron about Shuhada Street:

Shuhada Street is considered one of the most important streets in the city of Hebron, if not the most important. It is the main street that connects the northern neighborhoods and streets of Hebron with the southern ones. For many years the street had vital facilities on it, such as Hebron’s central bus station, taxi stations, the central vegetable market, an ancient Turkish bath, two wheat mills, a gas station, tens of different commercial shops, as well as some of the oldest schools in the city, which are still in operation.

When Israel occupied the city of Hebron in 1967 the Israeli right considered it a return to the land of their forefathers, referring to the patriarch Abraham’s relation ship to the city. From the beginning of the occupation colonizing the city was the goal of the Israeli right .

Although the Israeli governments that came to power in the late 60s led by the Labor Party hindered the settlement of Jews inside the city they finally allowed the establishment of Kiryat Arba settlement on the Eastern Hebron hills in the beginning of the 70s, therefore establishing the first settlement in occupied Palestinian lands since 1967.    

In 1977 the Likud Party came into power for the first time. They finally allowed settlers to move from Kiryat Arba to the heart of the city, which led to them taking over the Dabayu building in Shuhada street in 1979.

In 1982 The Israeli Army took over Usama Bin Munqiz school, which is in one of the streets connecting to Shuhada Street and is very near the Old City. They handed the school over to settlers, who later turned it into a yeshiva (a Jewish religious high school) after adding a few floors to it.

In the 80s the Israeli army demolished 12 building behind the vegetable market so as to establish a settlement block which they called Avraham Avinu. This helped them to gradually control the market and eventually led to them completely displacing the shop owners from the market.  The Israeli military also demolished several commercial shops, exiled the head of the municipality, took over the central bus station for “ security” reasons, and then turned it into a military base that helped and protected the settlers. This past year the Israeli army has allowed settlers to stay inside this “ base”.

Today over 350 settlers and 250 Zionist yeshiva students live in the six settlement blocks that are located along the sides of Shuhada Street. Most of the settlers are involved in assaults on the residents of Hebron, especially on tthe Palestinian residents living around the settlements.

The assaults have included stoning houses and passers-by on the street, hindering the movement of those living next to these settlements, verbally abusing the residents as well as mocking their religious beliefs, and also abusing the Prophet Mohammed, whom they call a swine in both Arabic and Hebrew, cutting down trees, and wrecking private property.

In violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention the Israeli military does nothing to stop these violations or to investigate those who carry them out.

After the 1994, Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, when Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinians during morning prayers, came the Oslo Accords and Hebron Agreement.  Under this, the city was divided into two parts and Palestinians were prevented from moving freely on Shuhada Street and were completely prevented  from going into the vegetable market,.  This meant that the settlers gained complete control of the area.  The settlers even renamed some of the streets, especially Shuhada Street, which they named “King David Street”

In The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement – Annex I, Article 7 “ Guidelines for Hebron”,  28th Sep 1995

Guideline number 7 states: 

“7. Measures and procedures for normalizing life in the Old City and on the roads of Hebron will be taken immediately after the signing of this Agreement, as follows:

a. opening of the wholesale market – Hasbahe, as a retail market;

b. removal of the barrier on the road leading from Abu Sneineh to Shuhada Road in order to facilitate the movement on these roads”

However the Israeli army has still not complied with the agreement.

Because of the closure of Shuhada Street and other streets in the city of Hebron, journeys that took a few minutes walking now takes Palestinians twice the time to make because of their having to take detours. As for the Palestinians who still live on  Shuhada Street, they get to their houses by climbing on their neighbors’ rooves and porches                           

On 19 November 2006 the Association for Civil Rights in Israel approached the Israeli Army’s Attorney General and demanded that the military should reopen Shuhada Street. The Attorney General’s office replied on 25 December 2006 stating that “The Palestinians had really been prevented from moving in the street by mistake, and new orders that would allow them the freedom of movement should be given on the condition that there should be security measures.”

Despite that the street is still closed.

As the most vital street in the city of Hebron is still closed (as are other streets), the Youth Against the Settlements coalition, in cooperation with international and Israeli solidarity groups as well as with the support of the different national parties, announces that on the  friday 25 February 2011, the anniversary of the Ebrahemi Mosque massacre, there will be a day of struggle for the reopening of Shuhada Street and a day of solidarity with the street’s Palestinian residents.

There will be a dozen other events being held around the world to put pressure on the Israeli government to reopen the closed street and enable the Palestinians to move freely there.

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