On Thursday, August 9th, at 11:00 am, a delegation from Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) will install a net across the street in front of the CPT apartment in the Chicken Market of the Old City. The delegates will connect the netting to the CPT apartment building and the building opposite, which is occupied by the Israeli military. The netting will hang in front of the razor wire and metal fence at the end of the street in order to prevent players from kicking the balls over the fence.
For the past several weeks, local youths have gathered at the improvised football pitch on the street in front of the CPT apartment, in Souq Shaheen, for a daily football practice. Zleekha Muhtaseb, a local kindergarten teacher, and CPT worked with boys from the Old City to form a football team in February 2007. It has proved difficult to find a suitable place for the practice, and the street has proved an ideal area, but for the fact that players occasionally kick the ball over the razor wire fence and concrete barrier blocking access from the market to Shuhada Street. The balls land on Shuhada Street, where the Palestinian youths cannot enter, and it is not possible to retrieve the balls.
In December of 2006 the Israeli Defense Force issued an order allowing Palestinian pedestrian movement along Shuhada Street and the Attorney General assured the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) that the street would be opened. However, the street remains blocked and Palestinians generally cannot enter.
Muhtaseb said “I am happy that this netting is to be erected. We have lost several balls after boys kicked them too high. The football is important for the young boys and it gives them a way to use their energy in a constructive way.”