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Cycling for Freedom of Movement

30 June 2011 | International Solidarity Movement

70 cyclists from Hebron and surrounding areas, as well as 15 international cyclists, pedaled through Hebron on Tuesday in an attempt to challenge restrictions imposed on the freedom of movement. The group set off from near the centre of the city and cycled in unison through the streets of Hebron, waving Palestinians flags. Bikes were decorated with signs saying “We have the right to move”, “The wheels of change are in motion”, and “Bikes against borders” in English and Arabic.

The demonstration was guided by the Palestinian National Cycling Team and included both children and adults who demanded the right to move freely, cycle, and play in their city without the threat of violence and intimidation from the Israeli occupation forces. As the bikers moved through the streets, people waved, shouted and honked in support.

As the cyclists tried to cycle towards the Old City they found that the demonstration’s route had been blocked by 30 border police and soldiers, as well as two barbed wire fences stretched across the street. The group peacefully asked the border police to let them pass and continue their journey as soldiers pointed guns at them from the roofs of a nearby house. The police and the soldiers informed the cyclists that the street had been declared “a closed military zone,” but refused to show a document proving it. The cyclists were ordered to turn back and leave the area, without being given any explanation for the street closure other than usual ambiguous “security reasons”. The group stayed at the road blockade for 20 minutes, peacefully negotiating with the soldiers and stating their opposition to violation of their right to freedom of movement. Finally, the cyclists moved away from the barbed wire and the Israeli occupation forces and continued their demonstration on an alternative route for another 30 minutes.