military assaults activists in street-opening action
30 July 2010
The Israeli military seized local and international nonviolent activists trying
to regain Palestinian access to a local street in Al Khalil (Hebron) on 24 July 2010. About 100 Palestinians,
Israelis and internationals had gathered for the weekly “Open Shuhada Street” demonstration in a plaza near the
Beit Romano settlement and checkpoint. Two dozen Israeli soldiers had blocked
three of the streets leading into the plaza; Border police were also present.
activists began to walk down the remaining street, Israeli soldiers and police
followed. Several soldiers dashed into the crowd to seize
demonstrators. CPTers observed soldiers grabbing activists around the
neck and violently pushing observers. One participant reported that
soldiers pulled an international by her hair as she covered the body of another
woman to protect her on the ground. Another reported being struck in the
head by a soldier who approached from behind.
Palestinian leadership announced the end of the demonstration and urged
participants to go home, soldiers continued to follow the departing
demonstrators down the street and fired a sound grenade. By the end of
the episode, Israeli Military and police had arrested six activists: three
French nationals, a Swede, an Israeli and a Palestinian.
activists proceeded to Kiryat Arba police station, where the police were
holding those arrested. The activists remained there three hours, trying
to offer evidence on behalf of the arrested men and to file complaints against
violent treatment from soldiers. The police refused to admit any
activists. At 11:00 p.m. they released the Swede. The
Israeli and the three Frenchmen were released later. One Frenchman was
deported; the other two were banned from the West Bank. Their fines totaled 20,000
shekels. The Palestinian was held and released after two days.
The “Open Shuhada Street” campaign kicked off on 22 February 2010,
with demonstrations in Hebron and other cities around the
world. Since then, Palestinians, Israelis and internationals have held
weekly demonstrations in Hebron’s Old City every Saturday at 4:00 p.m. with chanting, drumming, speeches
and dancing. The campaign aims to reopen Shuhada Street to Hebron’s Palestinian residents.
Shuhada Street was a central, thriving marketplace
of Hebron until 2000. Three Jewish
settlements have grown along the street since 1979, interspersed with what were
Shuhada St. was closed in 1994 the first time, then opened, closed, opened and
finally closed at the beginning of 2001 until now. Even though the U.S. Agency for
International Development renovated it for both Palestinian and Israeli use in
2004, it was subsequently declared “a settler-only street.” Israeli settlers and authorities have not only confiscated
Palestinian buildings or welded shut the entrances, they now also control all
the market and parking spaces connected to Shuhada Street. These lots once provided Hebron’s Palestinian community with meat
and vegetable markets and accessibility to the Old City. Their closure to
Palestinians has hurt the local economy.
The Shuhada St. demonstrations bring together
diverse groups nonviolently resisting the Occupation. During an
evaluation session, a lead organizer summing up their resolve following the
day’s events, said, “This campaign must succeed.”