2nd June 2016 | International Solidarity Movement, al-Khalil team | Hebron, occupied Palestine
Despite the lifting of the closed military zone in Shuhada Street and Tel Rumeida, many restrictions for Palestinians still remain. This neighbourhood is in H2 under full Israeli control in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron).
The closed military zone was first declared on 1st November, banning any Palestinian resident of the area that wasn’t registered as a number with the Israeli forces from reaching their homes. This included doctors, workers, human rights observers and medical personnel. The orders were not extended anymore on the 16th of May, after more than six months of collective punishment.
As part of these closures, Israeli forces installed a metal gate on the stairs leading to Qurtuba school, preventing access for anyone except – at least most of the time – the schools’ students and teachers during school time. The stairs are located at Daboya checkpoint (checkpoint 55) that marks the invisible point on Shuhada Street where Palestinians are no longer allowed to continue on to go down the once thriving Palestinian market. With the closure of the Qurtuba stairs in both directions, the tiny strip of Shuhada Street still accessible to Palestinians effectively became a dead-end – with the rest of Shuhada Street forbidden for Palestinians and the stairs access blocked.
The families living above Shuhada Street, thus, have their main access to their homes blocked for more than seven months in an act of collective punishment – solely on the basis of them being Palestinians – while Israeli settlers from the illegal settlements and Israeli forces freely go up and down the street without any hassle. Whenever challenged for long enough that soldiers would actually call the Israeli civil police, they would suddenly come up with a ‘closed military zone’ order for the area that is valid for only 24 hours and lacks officiall stamps or signatures.
In the afternoon of Wednesday, 1st of June, Israeli forces again started registering some Palestinian residents, according to their information for them to be allowed to use Qurtuba stairs. Instead of registering the families living up from the stairs though, they went inside the houses of several Palestinian families on Shuahda Street for taking their names and ID-numbers, that have already been registered for the closed military zone and have been assigned numbers. The families registered were arbitrarily picked, going to some houses, but not all, while Israeli forces refused to register the families depending on the stairs to access their homes.
This is just another example of the Israeli forces attempts at forcible displacement of the Palestinian families in this neighbourhood, in order to connect the illegal settlements in the heart of al-Khalil. The apartheid policies and continued denial of human rights and dehumanization of Palestinians is only a thinly-disguised attempt at ethnic cleansing of the area.