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An end to discrimination? Closed Military Zone in Hebron neighbourhood officially stopped

20 May 2016 | International Solidarity Movement, al-Khalil team | Hebron, occupied Palestine

The closed military zone (CMZ) encompassing the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood and Shuhada Street in occupied al-Khalil has officially been lifted.

According to the Israeli army spokesperson, the CMZ-order was not extended, now allowing some non-residents into the area. The International Solidarity Movement and Youth Against Settlements initiated the #OpenTheZone campaign against the CMZ in the beginning of May, with extensive media-outreach through background information, personal accounts of life in the closed military zone, video statements, and on-the ground actions like children’s events, press conferences etc.

The area of Tel Rumeida and the tiny strip of Shuhada Street where Palestinians are still allowed to walk, were first declared a closed military zone on 1st November 2015, with orders that were continuously renewed. This closure, deliberately only enforced on the Palestinian residents, while Israeli settlers from the illegal settlements within the city kept enjoying their privileges and complete impunity under Israeli military protection, meant for Palestinians, that they were living in a prison: only residents officially registered with the Israeli forces as a number where allowed to access their own homes. Palestinians made into a number and thus not being seen as a human being anymore, were often forced to wait outside Shuhada checkpoint for long-periods of time, be it rain or sun. No friends, family, human rights observers, repair-men or even emergency medical personnel was allowed.

With the last order officially ending on 14th May, it was first unclear whether yet another extension would be filed. Five days later, on 19th May, the Israeli army officially announced that the order was not extended. With ‘some’ non-residents now allowed into the area, it appears that this thinly-disguised attempt at forced displacement of the Palestinians in this region continues – in a form only a little more disguised and less media-worth. At the same time, the lists witness to the numbering of people are still lying handy at the checkpoint.

Without an end to the illegal Israeli military occupation of the West Bank an the injustice, humiliation and dehumanization of the Palestinian population can not possibly end.