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Israeli army close down shops opposite Shuhada street in Hebron

11 August 2010 | ISM

Yesterday, August 10th, between 3:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon, in response to peaceful Palestinian resistance to the military occupation of Hebron – and ongoing settler violence – the Israeli army decided to collectively punish Palestinian shopkeepers in the Old City. They had been threatening for weeks to close certain shops because they are located by the yellow gate that closes off Shuhada street, where a weekly peaceful demo has started each Saturday for the past few months.

At about 3:00 the army announced that three of the five shops would be closed, and that they would weld the doors shut. Three families would lose their entire livelihoods.

Crowds of people then began gathering by the shops. There were members of ISM, CPT and EAPPI. There were also many Palestinians who came out to see what was happening. Some internationals and Palestinians stood in front of the shops.

Some people spoke to the soldiers who at that point were behind the gate. They asked them why they were punishing innocent people. The soldiers told them to leave. They did not listen to people telling them that they should disobey unjust orders. They just stared vacantly.

Some young Palestinian men tried to take off the gates before the soldiers got to them, so they would not be welded shut. One of the shopkeepers, an elderly man, tried to move his products out of the shop.

After about an hour, the gate to Shuhada Street swung open. Armed soldiers walked into the crowd and began ordering people to disperse. They charged towards the people in the first shop and arrested them. Palestinian men were thrown to the ground and were tackled by the soldiers. An older woman from CPT was roughly pushed. In all, six people were arrested, one international – who has since been released – and five Palestinians who are still being held.

The soldiers brutally chased out, dragged out or arrested everyone in the shops. They pushed crowds of people back and then proceeded to weld shut the doors. They declared the area a “closed military zone”. Many of the people in the crowd began remonstrating with the soldiers. Some of the soldiers told people to shut up. Others just stood there, not saying anything. Two officers were yelling at people and the soldiers pushed the crowds back.

After finishing welding the doors, the soldiers went back to their base. Before leaving, they threw a sound grenade. The loud noise shocked many people.

It was an action targeted at innocent civilians who were being punished for daring to peacefully raise their voices for their human rights.