Shuhada Street demonstration`
Shuhada Street demonstration
A press release from Badia Dwaik of Youth Against Settlements in Hebron:
On the 19th Commemoration of the Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre, hundreds demonstrate to Open Shuhada Street in Hebron
Hundreds demonstrated today, Friday, in Hebron as part of the 4th Annual Open Shuhada Street Protest. Israeli forces quickly attacked demonstrators using tear gas, skunk water, stunt grenades, and some live ammunition bullets. One person was injured in the leg by a live bullet while 12, including one journalist, were injured by rubber coated steel bullets. Many were cleared to the hospital due to gas inhalation.
Demonstrators marched towards Shuhada Street while some tried to scale the barbed wire which blocks Palestinians from accessing what used to be the main commercial district of the city. Marchers chanted for the opening of Shuhada Street, as well as in solidarity with prisoners, all the while calling, “Peaceful, Peaceful, Freedom to Palestine.”
Later in the afternoon, Palestinian Authority police and special forces violently pushed demonstrators away from the Old City and restricted them from demonstrating.
Palestinian residents of Hebron have suffered for decades from Israeli government evictions, curfews, market and street closures, military checkpoints, subjection to military law including frequent random searches and detention without charge, and lack of protection from rampant settler violence. This pressure and violence has caused approximately 15,000 Palestinian civilians to flee their homes in the Hebron city center, turning it into a virtual ghost town.
The Israeli military closed Shuhada Street, the principal commercial district of the city, to Palestinian vehicles in 1994, after the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre. In 2000, it began a policy of preventing Palestinian residents (200,000) to walk on the street claiming that it was for the security of about 400-800 Israeli settlers occupying the center of Hebron.
More than 500 stores were closed by military order in the center of Hebron, and more than a thousand store owners were forced to close their shops due to checkpoints and closures. At the same time, illegal settlers enjoy freedom of movement in the closed streets and are protected by military forces.