Global movement joins Hebron protest to ‘Open Shuhada Street’


Last Thursday I joined Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists for the “Open Shuhada Street” demonstration to demand Palestinian access to one of the most important streets in Hebron. Hebron, along with East Jerusalem, is unique in having settlers and Israeli soldiers occupy the very heart of a large Palestinian urban area.

The protest was held on February 25th to mark the 16th anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, when Israeli-American settler Baruch Goldstein shot and killed 29 Palestinians praying at the mosque and injured 150 more. Since the massacre, the IDF has instituted ever tightening restrictions on Palestinian movement throughout Hebron, and particularly on Shuhada Street where six settlement blocks were established. Today even Palestinian residents of Shuhada Street have to walk on complicated make-shift pathways on rooftops and climb over roadblocks to reach their home since walking or driving on the street is prohibited. (Read more on the “Open Shuhada Street” website.)

Organizers estimate 300 protesters attended. Demonstrators arrived in the Abu Sneineh district and were met by Israeli soldiers and jeeps blocking their entry into Shuhada Street. Although some Palestinian boys watching the demonstration from the street threw stones, all of the protesters remained steadfastly committed to non-violence while the IDF repeatedly threw tear gas canisters and percussion grenades into the crowd. At least five protesters, including PLC member Mustafa Barghouti, were hospitalized for tear gas inhalation.

Hisham Sherabati, one of the organizers of the march with the Hebron-based group Youth Against Settlements, told me that there were participants from nearly every Palestinian political party along with Palestinian-Israelis, Jewish-Israelis, and internationals from around the world. The event, he said, had become not only an act of non-violent resistance to the closure of Shuhada Street to Palestinians on the anniversary of the Ibrahimi mosque massacre, but also an expression of condemnation of the Netanyahu claim for the Cave of the Patriarchs/Ibrahimi Mosque as an Israeli national heritage site, and part of the larger movement. ”We are part of the Palestinian popular nonviolent resistance of the occupation,” Sherabati said. He explained the necessity for this day of action:

“It’s crucial to unite our efforts to address the issue of apartheid in Hebron, where there is a systematic separation between Palestinians and illegal Israeli settlers, where very important streets have been given to extremist settlers.”

Before the protest began, I caught up with PLC member and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Mustafa Barghouti. He noted that the protest was important to raise awareness about the nature of segregated roads in the Occupied Palestinian Territories:

“Roads are segregated in what has become one of the worst apartheid systems in the world. Even in South Africa under apartheid and in the United States under segregation, the roads were never segregated.”

In 1995 Israel and the PLO signed the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, more commonly known as the Oslo II Agreement. This agreement stipulates that “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” (Annex I, Article VII).

In fact, this agreement required Israel to remove obstacles to Palestinian movement specifically on the very site where the IDF clashed with protesters on Thursday. By signing Oslo II, Israel agreed to implement “removal of the barrier on the road leading from Abu Sneineh to Shuhada Road in order to facilitate the movement on these roads”. (See full text of Oslo II at the Israeli government website here.)

Over 25 cities world-wide, from Capetown to Prague to New York City, held protests, vigils, and other events to mark February 25th as the kickoff for the “Open Shuhada Street” campaign. The campaign itself began as a joint Palestinian-International campaign in a meeting in Hebron of activists from Youth Against Settlements and activists from South Africa. Sherabati explained that the day of action was the beginning of building a global and sustainable movement to open Shuhada Street as an important part of ending the occupation.

“We are very sure that sooner or later the street will be open and will be given back its identity. We erase the name King David Street, like the settlers call it. And we erase the name Chicago Street – that’s what the military calls it. We’re giving it back the name ‘Shuhada Street’.”

Katya Reed is a freelance journalist based in Bethlehem, West Bank, Occupied Palestine.

Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 22 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. potsherd says:

    If this keeps up, all Palestine will be in a state of uprising.

  2. annie says:

    excellent. solidarity with every breath we take until palestine is free.

    • yonira says:

      Will your movement stop after a two state solution is reached? or will you still continue after that?

      • It will continue until there is justice for the Palestinians.

        Whether that entails one or two states is irrelevant.

        • yonira says:

          I am all for justice for the Palestinians!

        • annie says:

          me too.
          Will your movement stop after a two state solution is reached?

          don’t you mean if? if an an equitable two state solution is reached palestine will be free. does that answer your question?

        • annie says:

          yonira, i meant ‘is achieved’. if an an equitable two state solution is achieved palestine will be free. but i have serious doubts that is possible given the ‘facts on the ground’ and israel’s unwillingness to let go.

          In the usual progress of things, the necessities of a nation in every stage of its existence will be found at least equal to its resources.

          alexander hamilton

          what kind of equitable state would allow it’s resources to be controlled by its neighbor? it’s security? ‘my’ movement is not the problem for achieving an equitable two states. we will settle for nothing less than equality, you should ask israel if they will relinquish control and don’t bother your pretty head worrying about when ‘my’ movement will stop. look within.

        • yonira says:

          Annie,

          ‘My’ movement has proven to be a tough nut to crack. Hopefully my generation will realize that what needs to be done for peace and will have the guts to see it through. There are not many more generations after mine before any opportunity for peace is gone.

        • aparisian says:

          you are a fucking liar yonira, you just keep lying like all your Zionist friends. Even settlers keep telling we want peace with Palestinians, their peace and justice is equivalent to crimes and injustice in rational standards.I remind everyone here that yonira deny systematically the crimes committed by terrorist Apartheid Israel. You are part of the gang, you support terrorist Apartheid regime, you lack of humanity, you are immoral, you are arrogant and racist.

        • aparisian says:

          All united till Palestine is free! Free Free Palestine! Free Free Palestine! Long live Palestine and down Zionism down Racist Zionism!!!

      • potsherd says:

        What is a “two-state” solution? Only a just solution will do, not the establishment of prison camps behind walls and razor wire.

  3. Mooser says:

    I am not seeing a lack of Palestinian Gandhi’s here.

  4. VR says:

    “…there were participants from nearly every Palestinian political party along with Palestinian-Israelis, Jewish-Israelis, and internationals from around the world.” This is what I find invaluable, the unified effort to address this issue. There are numerous areas to address, and the unified front is the only way to approach any aspect. The only unified strength, which will be greater than the atrocious occupational activity, is a global presence in these acts – for than it becomes this rogue nation against the world, and no force can stand up to the world, not even an ideological front that borderlines on insanity.

  5. Avi says:

    Since the massacre, the IDF has instituted ever tightening restrictions on Palestinian movement throughout Hebron, and particularly on Shuhada Street where six settlement blocks were established.

    That is everything you ever needed to know about the state of justice, namely the legal system in Israel, as far as the relationship between the oppressed minority and the racist majority is concerned.

    A colonist, one who is illegally occupying another Palestinian’s house and land shoots and kills close to 30 unarmed Palestinians WHILE they were praying, prompts the Israeli government to restrict the movement of Palestinians – the victims of the massacre – while protecting the same group from which that murderer Baruch Goldstein emerged.

    If that’s not the epitome of injustice, hypocrisy, racism, criminal and just pure evil behavior, I don’t know what is.

    On top of that, when those who defend Israel’s policies claim that the government does not agree with those radical fanatics, the colonists, they indirectly approve of such crimes and violence in the same way the Israeli government is directly complicit in such crimes and violence. What message is the protection of the criminal and the punishment of the victim supposed to send to the criminal?

    It sure is a convenient tactic for the US mainstream media, when they claim that the Israeli government won’t hesitate to punish those colonist thugs. I have seen reports by CBS’s Bob Simon and NBC’s Brian Williams in which they both presented the Israeli government as enforcing the law equally on colonists as it is on so-called Palestinian rioters and criminals. The BBC’s Katya Adler did the same when she pretended that the Israeli government, in response to Obama’s call for a settlement freeze – was taking down “outposts” put up by the colonists. As if two pieces of cardboard, a 2 by 4 and three nails holding them all together are what these “settlements” comprised of.

  6. Mooser says:

    OT, sort of.

    What happened with the Israeli figure-skating pair? I heard (this is not a joke, not!) they did a “dirty dancing” (momba romantique) skating routine, so erotic NBC (? network) wouldn’t show it, to the theme from Schindler’s List as a tribute to the Holocaust?

    Is somebody pulling my limb, or is that what happened? I was sort of waiting for a post on it.

  7. aparisian says:

    Hey guys today is a great day for Palestine because its the first session of the Russell Tribunal where some decent people are gathering in Barcelona to discuss the war crimes and the human rights violations committed by Israel, you can watch the session live on link to hispanetwork.com
    their site link to russelltribunalonpalestine.org The tribunal is getting very few attention from the Mass media, can you guys spread the word? I hope Phil will read my post because we really need to speak about it.

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