Join the International Day of Struggle for Reopening Shuada Street and Ensuring Freedom of Movement for the Palestinian Inhabitants of Hebron, February 24, 2012
Up until its closure, Shuhada Street was considered the most important street in the city of Al-Khalil (Hebron). It was the main street connecting the central and northern neighborhoods of the city with the southern ones. For many years, the street was home to some of the city’s most vital services, such as Hebron’s central bus station, taxi stations, the central vegetable market, an ancient Turkish bath, two wheat mills, a gas station, tens of different commercial shops, as well as some of the oldest schools in the city, which are still in operation.
When Israel occupied the city of Hebron in 1967, the Israeli rightists described it a “return to the city of the forefathers”. In the early '70s, as part of this “return”, the Israeli government permitted the establishment of Kiryat Arba settlement on the Eastern Hebron hills.
In 1977, the Likud-led Israeli government allowed settlers to move from Kiryat Arba into the heart of the city. In the '80s, the Israeli army demolished 12 buildings near the central vegetable market, gradually leading to the complete displacement of the shop owners. The Israeli Army also took over the central bus station, and turned it into a military base. For the past two years, the settlers have been allowed to stay inside this “base”.
Today, nearly 450 settlers and 250 ultra-Zionist yeshiva students live in the six settlement enclaves that are located along the sides of Shuhada Street. Most of the settlers are involved in constant assaults on the residents of Hebron.
The assaults include stoning Palestinian houses and Palestinian pedestrians, hindering the movement of those living next to the settlements, verbally abusing the residents as well as mocking their religious beliefs, cutting down trees and wrecking private property. In violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Israeli Security Forces do nothing to stop these violations or investigate those who carry them out.
After the 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre, when Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinians during morning prayers, the Oslo Accords and Hebron Agreement came into being, with supposed remedies to the situation. In reality, the city was divided into two parts and Palestinians were prevented from moving freely on Shuhada Street and thereafter completely prevented from accessing the central vegetable market.
The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement contains a specific article dealing with the unbearable situation in Hebron. Annex I, Article 7, Guideline 7 (28th September 1995), states: “Measures and procedures for normalizing life in the Old City and on the roads of Hebron will be taken immediately after the signing of this Agreement, as follows:
a. opening of the wholesale market, Hasbahe, as a retail market;
b. removal of the barrier on the road leading from Abu-Sneineh to Shuhada Road in order to facilitate the movement on these roads.”
The Israeli army has still not complied with the agreement.
Because of the closure of Shuhada Street and other streets in the city of Hebron, moving from one place to the next in Hebron, that used to take Palestinian inhabitants a few minutes, now require long detours. The Palestinians who still live on Shuhada Street reach their homes by climbing onto their neighbors’ roofs and porches.
On November 19th, 2006, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) approached the Israeli Army’s Attorney General and demanded that the military reopen Shuhada Street. The Attorney General’s office replied on December 25th, 2006, stating that “The Palestinians had actually been prevented from moving in the street by mistake, and new orders that would allow them freedom of movement would be given on the condition that there would be security measures.” Despite this, the street is still closed.
In 2010, Hebron’s popular committees, with the support of the different national parties, and in cooperation with international and Israeli solidarity groups, proclaimed February 25th, the anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre, as a day of global struggle for the reopening of Shuhada Street and full freedom of movement for the Palestinians in Hebron.
On Friday, February 24th, 2012, the Hebron Defense Committee (HDC), in coordination with the national political parties, will organize a rally in the city of Hebron to put pressure on the Israeli government to reopen the closed street and to enable Palestinians to move freely there. Everyone is welcome.
The Settlers – with the support of the Army – are systematically seeking to make life in Hebron unbearable for Palestinians. Support the struggle of the Palestinian inhabitants in al-Khalil for life in dignity and freedom!
Hebron Defense Committee (HDC):
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign