Israeli forces suppress non-violent march commemorating Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre

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Israeli forces on Friday suppressed a peaceful march of Palestinian protesters in the occupied West Bank district of Hebron, firing tear gas, physically assaulting and throwing stun grenades directly at protesters and journalists.

The march was in commemoration of one of the most deadly attacks against Palestinians in Hebron during the past three decades. It has been 22 years since the Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre, when an Israeli settler extremist shot dead 29 Palestinians during prayer, and injured more than 100 more with live bullets.

Shuhada Street (Photo by Abed al Qaisi)
Shuhada Street (Photo by Abed al Qaisi)

Following the attack, Israeli authorities closed down the large marketplace surrounding the mosque. To this day, only allowing Israeli settlers and a handful of Palestinian residents to venture down the once-bustling Shuhada Street, above, known by locals and activists as “Ghost Town.” (Photo by Abed al Qaisi)

(Photo by Abed al Qaisi)
Temple (Photo by Abed al Qaisi)

After the massacre, Ibrahimi Mosque was eventually partitioned off, with half remaining a mosque, and the other half transformed into a temple, as Israeli Jews claim the site was in its original form. Cracks between the partition in the mosque allow a small glimpse into the temple (above). More open areas between the two sides are split with non-transparent bullet-proof glass.

Every year since, Palestinians have commemorated the incident, usually through protest marches. This year, marchers gathered at a local mosque on the outskirts of Hebron city to pray before launching the protest.

(Photo by Abed al Qaisi)
Praying (Photo by Abed al Qaisi)

So many protesters showed up for the commemoration that many were left to pray in the streets before the march.

Issa el Amro (Photo by Abed al Qaisi)
Issa Amro (Photo by Abed al Qaisi)

Issa Amro the head of the Hebron-based group Youth Against Settlements, said protesters had no plans to throw rocks or commit any other form of violence during the march.

(Photo by Abed al Qaisi)
March (Photo by Abed al Qaisi)

“If violence erupts, it will be from the Israeli soldiers, not us,” Amro said, just having handed out a bundle of new Palestinian flags to activists.

A few kilometers away from the start of the march, protesters approached an intersection on Mohawil street, which leads to the illegal Israeli settlement of Kyriat Arba off in the distance.

(Photo by Abed al Qaisi)
Soldiers (Photo by Abed al Qaisi)

Dozens of Israeli forces immediately approached the marchers, physically confronting protesters. 

(Photo by Abed al Qaisi)
Farid al-Atrash, lawyer with sign (Photo by Abed al Qaisi)

Farid al-Atrash, a prominent Palestinian lawyer, held up a sign that read “Free Free Palestine,” both hands in the air as Israeli forces tackled and detained him when he, along with the other protesters, refused to turn back.

(Photo by Abed al Qaisi)
Confrontation (Photo by Abed al Qaisi)

As Amro predicted, protesters stuck to their mandate of non-violence, using only their voices to confront the fully-armed Israeli soldiers.

Hebron (Photo by Abed al Qaisi)
Stun grenades, Hebron (Photo by Abed al Qaisi)

As protesters refused to leave the area, which was declared a “closed military zone,” Israeli forces began throwing stun grenades and tear gas directly at demonstrators.

With no way to defend themselves, eventually protesters had no choice but to retreat.

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Countless times over the years I’ve read Tom Friedman, et al., say “if only the Palestinians would use nonviolence.”

I was talking to my mom about that nonviolence thing, we agreed the Palestinians are not violent now, and Israel is too busy violating every right to basic life. They tell us American Jews we should join them in their insane Campaign to ensure the whole world hates Israel. Of… Read more »

Jewish democracy 101:

If Nonjews protest, declare the area of protest a “military closed zone” and than attack them with stun grenades and tear gas.