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Israeli military assaults activists in street-opening action

July 30, 2010 1 Comment

CPTnet Digest, Volume 31 Issue 20
A newsletter written by members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams
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.

As the 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.

After the 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.

Thirty 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 Palestinian shops.

In 2000 the street was closed to Palestinians, and 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.

Photos: http://cpt.org/index.php?q=gallery&g2_itemId=20991

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CPT’s MISSION: What would happen if Christians devoted the same discipline and sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war? Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks to enlist the whole church in organized, nonviolent alternatives to war and places teams of trained peacemakers in regions of lethal conflict.

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One Comments to “Israeli military assaults activists in street-opening action”
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