16 May 2011 | International Solidarity Movement
Approximately one thousand people demonstrated in Hebron during the weekend to commemorate the Nakba day. Several protesters were injured after violent responses from the Israeli army.
On Sunday the 15th May around a thousand Palestinians joined in a demonstration to commemorate the Nakba, (in English literally “the catastrophe”) which occurred in 1948 when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled from their homes as the Israeli state was created. The demonstration, in which the International Solidarity Movement as well as all major political parties and the Mayor of Hebron took part, started at the Hebron Municipality building in the H1 area (the area of the city controlled by the Palestinian authority) and stopped at the UNRWA (The UN Agency for Palestine Refugees) office, where speeches were held. The chants of the demonstrators and the speeches highlighted the right of the 1948 refugees to return and the unity of the Palestinian people.
Protesters also marched towards the Old City of Hebron. Here the Israeli military advanced into the H1 area and attacked protesters with tear gas, sound bombs and rubber coated steel bullets. Other protesters were prevented from entering the Old City by Palestinian police forces. A group of young women in the front line of the demonstration managed to break through the police line and for a while managed to continue the protest behind the police forces. Protesters responded to the violence of the Israeli military by throwing stones. At 4pm a member of an ambulance crew told the ISM that 20 people so far had been injured by the Israeli military, four were injured by rubber coated steel bullets and the remaining by inhaling tear gas. According to Ma’an News Agency, an additional five demonstrators were later treated for wounds caused by rubber coated steel bullets, four for tear gas inhalation and one for fractures caused by being beaten by the Israeli military.
On Saturday the 14th of May during the evening a march took place involving around 300 Palestinians, they carried fire torches and marched from the Municipality to the nearby square where speeches were made. They also carried keys which represent the loss of their homes in the Nakba. The march took place within the Palestinian controlled part of Hebron and there were no difficulties with the Israeli military although a sizable Palestinian police force was on call to watch the protest.
On Sunday the 15th during the evening after the main protests marking the Nakba, the ISM were asked to attend a protest by Youth Against Settlements, a Palestinian activist group. The demonstration was held in Wadi al Hadya. Though all of the street lights had been inexplicably turned off, the ISM members reported 30 youths gathered at the base of the hill and were blocking the road with a large skip, which was set on fire. This was to stop the advance of Israeli soldiers who had gathered at the top of the hill. The soldiers were using their laser sights which could be clearly seen moving over the young men gathered at the protest. The soldiers then fired tear gas and sound bombs in order to disperse the gathered youths. As far as the ISM members were able to tell nobody was injured by this unprovoked fire but this is as yet unconfirmed.