“I don’t want to leave. If every time the army comes out of the checkpoint we have to close our shops, we’ll sit at home and die of hunger on the bed.” The words from a vegetable salesman beside the Tal Rumaideh checkpoint in Al-Khalil/Hebron echoed down the empty street after the soldier ordered him to close his small shop and head home on Israeli Sukkot Holiday.
Around 9:30 a.m., a military vehicle filled with a large number of soldiers entered Wadi Al-Tufah Street, one of the city’s most important streets. The soldiers took their positions, closing the street and emptying it of Palestinians, to allow settlers to pass safely and comfortably to the cemetery down the road as part of Jewish holiday rituals.
Just because you’re Palestinian, you are prohibited from exercising your legitimate right to walk down the street regardless of your age, or the reason you’re passing the checkpoint, crossing the street, or even whether you were walking by foot or in a car.
Most people are able to work and earn money to enjoy their lives and save some for their future. But for most Palestinians, the occupation restricts their movement to their livelihood so their income just covers their basic needs. As a result, whatever they earn doesn’t cover leisure activities, or for some, even their basic needs.
And as a Palestinian child or youth, you’re not allowed to run around, play on your bike, or go buy things from a shop down the street. You’re only allowed to stand and wait on the other side of the street watching the settlers pass by.
September is one of the most difficult months for Palestinians. It’s a month in which Israelis celebrate three holidays within 13 days and the street is completely closed to Palestinians twice for more than six hours at a time. It means increased military presence as settlers invade Hebron and heightened threats against Palestinians in the H2 area from soldier and settler violence. Families are subject to settlers throwing stones at their homes, or on the occasion you leave your house, potentially getting beaten, insulted, and prevented from passing through the checkpoint or streets that are part of the Jewish faith.
These holidays are therefore full of violence, restrictions, gas bombs, sound bombs, and arrests.
The reason behind religious holidays is to remind people of love, tolerance, and peace among human beings so that people connect spiritually with themselves and God. What happens in Hebron though is never that. The holidays in Palestine mean violence, tension, and constant fear because the forces at play do not respect the law and do not deal humanely with the other.
Imagine your life were controlled by an unjust occupation, and your right to exercise your normal routine is a conditional decision from the powers that be, closing doors and opening them on a whim. And then imagine that the right to object to this injustice is also forbidden!