HEBRON: Israeli soldiers attack nonviolent demonstrators calling for opening of Shuhada Street.

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CPTnet
2 March 2011
HEBRON: Israeli soldiers attack nonviolent demonstrators
calling for opening of Shuhada Street.

 by Samuel
Nichols

 [Note, Nichols’ original piece is available on Waging
Nonviolence
.]

 An estimated one thousand Palestinians, joined by Israeli
and international activists, took to the streets on Friday, 25 February, to
demand the opening of Shuhada Street, a former thoroughfare in the West Bank
city of Hebron.  Israeli occupying
forces fired foam-tipped bullets, tear gas, and sound grenades, injuring nine
protestors.  Many demonstrators
also suffered adverse effects of the tear gas.

Protestors attempted to reach Shuhada Street but were
intercepted by Israeli forces, who formed human walls to prevent Palestinians
from reaching the street that formerly hosted the city’s main market.  The protestors marched towards the line
of soldiers, holding signs and chanting, “We don’t want the settlers nor the
occupation,” and, “The people want Shuhada Street.”

 

Israeli forces used riot dispersal methods at multiple
locations where the gathered protesters outnumbered them.  The use of these weapons effectively
segmented the crowd, forcing smaller groups to break away and scatter into
adjacent streets and alleys to avoid the incapacitating tear gas and the
disorienting sound grenades.  A
small minority of Palestinian youth responded with stone throwing only after
Israeli forces had violently suppressed the nonviolent protesters’ assertion of
their rights to freedom of speech and movement.  (I mention this for the sake of refuting the misleading
articles and headlines that
parroted the
claims 
of Israeli military spokespersons, emphasizing the injury of five Israeli
Border Police while dismissing the history and current political realities of
Israel’s colonization of Hebron.)

Friday’s protest marked the seventeenth anniversary of Baruch
Goldstein’s massacre of twenty-nine Palestinians who were praying in Hebron’s
Ibrahimi Mosque.  Following the
1994 massacre, Israel closed Shuhada Street—a main artery serving the Old City
of Hebron as well as the Ibrahimi Mosque—to Palestinian traffic.  Palestinians are not permitted to drive
or walk on Shuhada Street, while Israeli settlers can travel
freely while under the protection of the Israeli military.  Many Palestinians whose homes are
located on Shuhada Street are not able to use their front doors.  Some residents of Shuhada Street are forced to use ladders
connected to neighboring roofs in order to leave their homes.

As seen in Hebron on Friday, the Israeli government
continues to suppress Palestinian popular resistance and attempts to paint all
Palestinians actively involved in the nonviolent struggle as deviant and
violent individuals.  The Israeli
media predictably reported that stone-throwing troublemakers were seeking to
gain access to the “Jewish Quarter” of Hebron, while in fact, the protestors
were attempting to access a street, in the heart of the city, from which they
have been barred based on ethnic criteria.  

In 1997, the U.S. government spent several million dollars
renovating Shuhada Street and utilities for the people who lived in the
neighborhood as part of the Oslo 2 Accords, which stipulated that Shuhada
Street had to remain open to both Palestinian and Israeli traffic.

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