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Hebron settlers are trying to erase the city’s Palestinian identity

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At the front of Shuhada street in the old city of Hebron is a street sign pointing multiple directions: Chabad Cemetery, Old Jewish Cemetery, Ancient Tel Hebron. The words are in Hebrew and English only. The purpose of the sign is not to provide directions but to erase Palestinian identity, and even the Arabic language, from the area. For more than a decade Israeli settlers have been installing these types of signs throughout Hebron. Over the past two years, the installation of these signs has increased exponentially.

Further down Shuhada street are signs telling the “history” of Hebron. One says Hebron originally belonged to the Jewish people. Another tells of the signing of the Hebron Accords in 1997. It says the Hebron Accords left Jews with only 3 percent of the city while Arabs enjoy large thriving shopping centers. One talks about 50 years ago when Israeli forces occupied the West Bank. It reads: “1967: Liberation of Hebron and reestablishment of its Jewish community. ‘The children have returned to their own border’ (Jer. 31:17).”

(Photo: Issa Amro)

(Photo: Issa Amro)

The signs are illegal even under Israeli law. Many of them, including signs changing streets from Arabic names to Hebrew names, have been mounted on private Palestinian shops and homes without the owners’ consent. This has occurred even on streets that are predominantly inhabited by Palestinians. The signs are installed without approval from the Hebron municipality or the Israeli military.

(Photo: Issa Amro)

In 1994, Brooklyn-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein opened fire in the Ibrahimi mosque. He murdered 29 Palestinians in worship. Israel responded not by protecting the Palestinian community by removing the illegal settlers but by implementing the Hebron Protocol. Signed in 1997, the protocol divided the city, closing streets and the once vibrant marketplace to Palestinians, turning the city into a virtual ghost town. Within it though, is a requirement that Israeli authorities protect the Palestinian identity of Hebron. Allowing the settler signs to remain violates this requirement.

On April 3, 2017, Youth Against Settlements and Rabbis for Human Rights officially requested the Israeli army secure the area so the signs could be removed. The army refused to grant the request, citing fear of violence. However, the army regularly grants permits for settlers to have marches celebrating terrorism against Palestinians. For their Purim parade, settlers in Hebron dress in costumes depicting Palestinians as villains. In 2016 settlers had their Purim in the very location where Israeli soldier Elor Azaria had recently killed two unarmed Palestinians. Settlers danced on the blood-stained spot of the street where the executions had taken place.

Among the most offensive signs settlers have put up is a banner on Shuhada Street reading “Palestine Never Existed (and never will).” Unable to remove this and other offensive and illegal settler signs through legal means, the other day we dropped our own banner from a Palestinian balcony overlooking Shuhada Street. It read “This is Palestine. Welcome to Apartheid Street.” We will be continuing our efforts to legally challenge the illegal settler signs. We will also continue dropping banners and installing signs of truth, justice, and history. You can help us by signing our petition asking the Israeli Civil Administration to uphold Israeli law as it relates to the signs and by joining our campaign of Truth Telling in Hebron.

A sign settlers posted in the West Bank city of Hebron and a response hung by Youth Against Settlements. (Photo: Youth Against the Settlements)

Issa Amro

Issa Amro is an internationally recognized Palestinian human rights defender from the West Bank city of Hebron. He is the founder and director of the Palestinian led organization, Youth Against Settlements, that documents human rights violations and provides protection and infrastructure for Palestinian families. He has testified before the UN on numerous occasions and received many awards and recognitions for his work. He is currently undergoing trial in Israeli military court. His twitter handle is @issaamro.

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12 Responses

  1. John O on May 22, 2017, 11:51 am

    “The army refused to grant the request, citing fear of violence”

    So that’s what they mean by the most moral army in the world.

    • Citizen on May 24, 2017, 6:55 am

      Same justification US college administrators have been using to stifle BDS speakers on campus.

  2. Kay24 on May 22, 2017, 12:16 pm

    To think we have been told ad nauseam that it is the Arabs that want Israel wiped off the map.

    Actions speak louder than words.

    • pamj1900 on May 23, 2017, 8:59 am

      Agreed!! They destroying is only being done by the Israelis, settlers and IDF!

  3. JosephA on May 22, 2017, 12:21 pm

    Dear Issa, keep up the good work! What a sad state of affairs.

  4. annie on May 22, 2017, 3:53 pm

    talk about incitement!

  5. Kay24 on May 22, 2017, 5:41 pm

    Hassan Mehdi was on Ali Velshi’s show on MSNBC, and it was impressive to see him respond to Dirty Dershowitz’s usual pro zionist BS, with some solid facts, which Dirty Dersh could not dispute. At the end DD did not give him much of a chance to talk, and spoke over him (hard to defend the indefensible). It was so refreshing to see someone know the facts and respond the right way to these zionists who go around spewing pro Israel nonsense. Something sadly lacking among the American journalists and pundits, who seem unable to respond with basic facts to the BS, and seem intimidated by any zionist.

  6. xanadou on May 22, 2017, 9:17 pm

    This is true antisemitism, considering that the Palestinians are overwhelmingly a semitic people, while the white zios, mizrahim and Ethopians are not.

    Found this most articulate and moving depiction of the ongoing Naqba:

    “’ll tell you what is harder than dying in Gaza by an Israeli missile deluxe. What is harder is that you get a phone call from the Israeli army telling you to evacuate your home because it will be bombed in ten minutes. Imagine; ten minutes; and your whole short history on the surface of Earth will be erased.

    Gifts you received, photos of your siblings and your children (dead or alive), things that you love, your favorite chair, your books, that last poetry collection your read, a letter from your expatriate sister, reminders of the ones you loved, the smell of your bed, the jasmine tree that hangs off your western window, your daughter’s hair clip, your old clothes, your prayer rug, your wife’s gold, your savings; imagine; all this passes in front of your eyes in ten minutes, all that pain passes while you are struck by surprise.

    Then you take your identification papers (passport, birth certificate, etc.) which you have ready in an old metallic candy box, and you leave your home to die a thousand times, or refuse to leave and die once.”

    —a Palestinian in ‪#‎Gaza‬”

  7. Marnie on May 23, 2017, 9:00 am

    “The signs are illegal even under Israeli law”.

    Of course they are. But israeli law doesn’t mean jackshit if they aren’t enforced. There are enough artists among Palestinians to make beautiful signs to counter the hideous lies spread by these fake jews.

  8. Elizabeth Block on May 23, 2017, 5:46 pm

    I saw that sign – the one that says Jews aren’t allowed to go into most of Hebron – a year ago. (I was there with Christian Peacemaker Teams – you don’t have to be a Christian! – and we met with Youth Against Settlements.) What the sign doesn’t say (of course) is that they are forbidden not by the Palestinians, but by the Israeli government.

  9. Kathleen on May 24, 2017, 12:35 am

    “Settlers danced on the blood-stained spot of the street where the executions had taken place. ”
    -Sick in the head and soul. There is a place in hell for people like this.

    Palestine deniers, Shameful.

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