by ISM Hebron, January 9th
Local Palestinian residents were yesterday prevented from walking down Shuhada Street, which cuts through the centre of Hebron. This is despite a recent High Court Order ruling that the closure of Shuhada Street to Palestinians for the past six years was a ‘mistake’ and their recent access to this street.
At 10am four local Palestinians accompanied by Israeli activists and an Israeli Channel 1 TV crew walked down Shuhada Street with copies of the High Court Order. They were stopped outside the Beit Hadassah colony by a large group of soldiers and some border police officers. An IOF Commander claimed the existence of a new military order forbidding access to Shuhada Street for Palestinians, but refused to show the new order. On Channel 1 later, an IOF spokesperson denied the existence of this new order and said it would be ‘investigated’. The Commander threatened to arrest the Palestinians if they didn’t leave within five minutes but failed to carry out this threat as the local residents negotiated unsuccessfully for over half an hour for access to Shuhada Street.
During this time settler colonists came out of Beit Hadassah and started to call the Palestinians names. A settler representative rejected the pleas of the Palestinians for them to live in peace and walk together down Shuhada Street, claiming that Shuhada Street was exclusively for Jews.
International observers from different groups had gathered on the path that leads to the Palestinian Qurtuba girls school overlooking Shuhada Street to document the events. Three soldiers approached them and asked them to move on but failed to take action when they stayed.