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. Soldiers intercepted the demonstrators to prevent them from reaching Shuhada Street.
The protestors marched towards the line of soldiers, holding signs and chanting, “We don’t want the settlers or the occupation,” and, “The people want Shuhada Street.”
The military’s use of incapacitating tear gas and disorienting sound grenades effectively segmented the crowd, forcing smaller groups to break away and scatter into adjacent streets and alleys.
The protest marked the 17th anniversary of Baruch Goldstein’s 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinians praying in Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque.
Following the massacre, Israel closed Shuhada Street to Palestinian traffic. Israeli settlers travel freely under the protection of the Israeli military but Palestinians are not permitted to drive or walk on Shuhada Street. Many Palestinians whose homes are located on Shuhada Street are not able to use their front doors. Some are forced to use ladders connected to neighboring roofs in order to leave their homes.
In 1997, the U.S. government spent several million dollars renovating Shuhada Street as part of the Oslo 2 Accords which stipulated that the roadway must remain open to both Palestinian and Israeli traffic.