Four Palestinians and one female German demonstrator shot with live ammunition at “Open Shuhada Street” protest
Israeli military sniper aiming up the road towards the Open Shuhada Street demonstrators
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On February 27 in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli forces fired live ammunition towards nonviolent protesters participating in the annual Open Shuhada Street demonstration, injuring five including four Palestinian activists, one of them 17 years old, and one German citizen. More were also injured by rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades as soldiers and Border Police blocked the roads leading towards Shuhada Street and attacked the protesters.
Close to a thousand Palestinians, accompanied by Israeli and international supporters, marched towards one of the closed entrances to Shuhada Street carrying flags and signs and chanting. They called for the opening of Shuhada Street, whose closure to Palestinians has become a symbol of Israel’s Apartheid system, and for an end to the occupation. The march was turned back by stun grenades, rubber coated steel bullets and live ammunition fired by the Israeli military. Around twenty demonstrators were injured in total; Hebron Hospital reported that at least six were admitted and two required surgery. One Palestinian activist, Hijazi Ebedo, 25, was arrested at the demonstration; all he had been doing was chanting and holding a sign.
Issa Amro, coordinator and co-founder of Youth Against Settlements (YAS) stated: “The protest, which was joined by groups from all over Palestine, marked the twenty-first anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre. Israeli occupying forces shot live ammunition towards peaceful protesters, which is against international law. The Israeli military should be held accountable in international court for their actions.”
“Julia was standing and filming next to me when suddenly she fell to the ground,” stated Leigh, a Canadian activist who was standing next to Julia when she was shot.
Julia, the injured 22-year-old German activist from Berlin, was evacuated to Hebron Hospital where she is being treated for a live gunshot wound which entered and exited her leg. “The brutality of Israeli forces is unbelievable, it seems like they don’t have a limit,” she stated. “In Palestine I have seen Israeli forces shooting tear gas, stun grenades, rubber and live ammunition at any kind of demonstration that is against the occupation. It doesn’t matter for them if it is peaceful or if there are kids attending. Yesterday I saw the army attack children who had been dancing in the street. Two people were shot with live ammunition in Bil’in. They shot me as I was standing and filming. It seems the soldiers just shoot at any one.”
The Open Shuhada Street demonstration marks the anniversary of the 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, when right wing extremist settler Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinians while they worshipped in the mosque. Following the massacre, Israeli forces shut down Palestinian businesses on Shuhada Street–once a commercial center–and began to implement the policies which would lead to what is now a total closure of the vast majority of the street to Palestinians. Twenty one years after the massacre, settlers from illegal Israeli settlements use the street freely while Palestinians are assaulted, shot and arrested when they attempt to reach it en masse during the Open Shuhada Street demonstration every year.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On the 24th of February in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli forces opened fire on dancing Palestinian youth, firing tear gas and throwing stun grenades at group of young children performing a traditional Palestinian dance as a form of protest in front of Shuhada checkpoint.
The fifteen young dancers, Palestinian girls and boys between the ages of six and twelve, gathered to perform dabke, a traditional Palestinian dance. They staged their dance in the open street in Bab Al-Zawiye (in the H1 – officially Palestinian Authority-controlled – part of Hebron) near Shuhada checkpoint, as part of a week of actions planned by Palestinian organizers around the annual Open Shuhada Street campaign. The children began performing under heavy military surveillance, as at least thirteen soldiers occupied roofs surrounding the entrance to the checkpoint.
Even before the demonstration had begun, Israeli forces closed Shuhada checkpoint to Palestinian men, only allowing a few women through. Shuhada checkpoint controls the main access between Bab Al-Zawiye and the the H2 (fully Israeli-controlled) neighborhood of Tel Rumeida. On the H2 side, the checkpoint faces Shuhada street, and soldiers restrict Palestinian access onto the short portion of Shuhada street where they are still allowed to walk.
“As soon as the dancing kids moved closer to the checkpoint, soldiers immediately attacked with two tear gas grenades and two stun grenades,” reported an ISM volunteer who witnessed the incident. “Israeli soldiers fired tear gas even though the children were not throwing stones.”
Jewish State forces prepare to fire on dancing children
After first fleeing the assault, the Palestinian children managed to continue dancing even as around twenty soldiers and eight border police advanced from the checkpoint into Bab Al-Zawiye. Israeli forces threw a dozen stun grenades after a few youth began throwing stones at the checkpoint.
Clashes continued for about an hour and a half, as Israeli soldiers and border police fired even more rounds of tear gas, several additional stun grenades, and eventually rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian youth. Advancing further and further into the commercial center of Bab Al-Zawiye, they ended up shooting into the crowded streets of the city’s market area. Local activists reported that two Palestinians suffered injuries from rubber-coated steel bullets.
February 25 marks the 21-year anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre; in 1994 US-born extremist settler Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinian worshipers inside the Al-Khalil mosque and injured dozens more. In the time following the attack, Israeli authorities initiated a crackdown, not on those occupying the city’s illegal settlements, but on Palestinians. Israel put in place policies, including the closure of Shuhada street, which would eventually lead to Al-Khalil becoming the divided city it is today.
Children in H2, which includes Al-Khalil’s historic Old City and once-thriving market, constantly endure the violence and daily humiliations of Israeli military occupation. Children living in the neighborhoods of H2 are routinely tear gassed on their way to school and face arrest, attack and daily harassment at checkpoints. The Open Shuhada Street actions are a yearly expression of resistance to Israel’s Apartheid system, as Palestinians young and old demand and end to the occupation.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – During the night of the February 22nd, Israeli occupation forces raided two homes belonging to the Edies family, in the Al-Khalil (Hebron) neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida. At least thirty soldiers invaded the homes of Yahya Edies and Saleh Edies at around 2:30 am on Sunday morning. Mhammad Edies, one of Yahya’s sons, reported to ISM volunteers that soldiers threatened his family, telling them “if you don’t open the door in 5 minutes, we will blow it up”.
Israeli soldiers ordered the family of twelve, including five children between 5 months and 12 years old, to gather in one room. One of the family’s sons was unable to follow the soldiers’ orders, since he is disabled and cannot move by himself; only after some discussion was he finally allowed to stay in the room he was in. The family was forced to stay inside that room for about an hour as the soldiers ransacked the house, upending furniture, strewing things all over the floor destroying the family’s belongings.
The soldiers upended furniture and destroyed belongings while the Palestinian family was trapped in one room – photo by Mhammad Edies
Israeli forces prevented ISM volunteers from documenting what was happening, pointing their guns and aiming lasers at them, yelling at and detaining those who attempted to leave their house to photograph the raid.
The following morning, a local a human rights activist reported that Israeli occupation forces had raided around 20 houses in Al-Khalil on that same night of the 21st to the 22nd of February alone.
The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that the current number of Palestinians, held by Israel under Administrative Detention orders without charges or trial, has arrived to 500.
The PPS said the Hebron district, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, witnessed the highest number of arrests and Administrative detention Orders.
It added that twelve administrative detainees, including democratically elected legislators, have been held under such orders for many years.
The detained legislators are Mohammad Jamal Natsha, Hatem Qfeisha, Mohammad Bader, ‘Azzam Salhab, Nayef Rajoub, Basem az-Za’arir, Samir al-Qadi, all from Hebron, in addition to Abdul-Jabbar Foqaha and Hasan Yousef from Ramallah, Mohammad Abu Teir and Ibrahim Abu Salem from Jerusalem, in addition to Abdul-Rahman Zeidan from Tulkarem.
The PPS said 208 of the 500 administrative detainees are from Hebron, including Ahmad Shabana, who spent eighteen years in Israeli prisons, including 13 years under Administrative Detention orders.
His latest arrest was on February 2 2014, and has been held since then; he also participated in the June 2012 61-day hunger strike, along with all Administrative Detainees.
Furthermore, detainee ‘Omar al-Barghouthi, 61 years of age, from the central West Bank city of Ramallah, has been detained since June of last year,
His repeated arrests led to him spending more than 25 years in Israeli prisons, including twelve years under Administrative Detention orders.
Israel “justifies” the use of Administrative Detention by claiming to have “secrets files” against the detainees, that neither the detainees, nor their lawyer can have access to.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On Monday, February 2nd, Palestinian demonstrators faced military violence at the hands of Israeli forces in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron). Protesters gathered in Bab Al-Zawiye, on the H1 (Palestinian administered) side of Shuhada checkpoint, to denounce Israeli president Reuven Rivlin’s visit to the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit Hadassah. Israeli sodliers and border police fired rounds of tear gas and numerous stun grenades, injuring at least two protesters.
The demonstration was organised by local Palestinian organisation Youth Against Settlements against the visit of the Israeli president to the settlement, which is illegal under international law and serves as a frequent source of oppression and violence against local Palestinians. Palestinians claimed their own rights, trampled by the military occupation, in the face of the visit’s attempt to legitimate the settler colonisation. Some signs called for opening the once vibrant and now closed Shuhada street, some for an end to the illegal settlements, some for President Rivlin to be brought before the International Criminal Court.
Around fifty Palestinians began the demonstration outside of Shuhada Checkpoint, holding signs and banners and hanging Palestinian flags on the fence. Israeli forces stopped them from passing through the checkpoint, preventing them from protesting on Shuhada street, near where the president was due to speak. As protesters continued to demonstrate, holding signs, waving flags and chanting for an end to occupation, a group of Israeli soldiers and border police exited the checkpoint and pushed protesters further back. Soldiers also occupied the roofs overlooking Bab Al-Zawiye “I just heard a soldier on a roof say ‘okay, enough’ and five minutes later they started throwing stun grenades and tear gas,” stated an ISM activist. “It was extremely sudden, and very scary.”
Israeli forces targetted Palestinian activists and organizers, hitting many in the legs with stun grenades and tear gas grenades. One man was hit directly with a stun grenade, which detonated right by his leg. “He screamed and fell down, rolling on the ground” one ISM activist recalled. Another man was also hit in the head with a stun grenade after the Israeli forces continued to use potentially lethal force against unarmed Palestinian protesters.
Demonstrators then attempted to continue the protest into the souq (Al-Khalil’s Old City market), but Israeli forces threatened them with stun grenades and prevented them from advancing. The protesters decided to go back after the army launched one stun grenade directly into the group of demonstrators. The protest eventually dispersed in Bab Al-Zawiye, after being targeted by a few more rounds of tear gas grenades.
The PIC reporter said the journalist Abu Rmaileh was transferred to hospital by Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance for treatment in one of the city’s hospitals.
Abu Rmaileh is a journalist from al-Khalil. He is working at B’Tselem human rights organization; he documents the Israeli crimes against Palestinians in al-Khalil, specially the Old City and the vicinity of al-Haram al-Ibrahimi Mosque.
Yesterday I had an idea for a short story to explain the unrelenting insanity of the occupation for ordinary Palestinians. Tell me what you think.
In my story, there is a Palestinian family, let’s call them the Jaabaris, and they live next to a Jewish settlement, let’s call it Kiryat Arba, close to Hebron deep in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
One day the settlers decide to build a synagogue on the family’s private land in an effort to force them off.
This family decide to stand their ground. Sadly, they have no way to stop the takeover of land that has been in their family for generations other than by appealing to the Israeli legal system. They petition the Israeli Supreme Court to order the synagogue demolished.
In the court room, the settlers argue that the land is not under Kiryat Arba’s control – it’s private Palestinian property – and therefore it is outside the court’s jurisdiction. The judges have no right to issue a ruling in this case, they claim.
The court disagrees and says the land is under Kiryat Arba’s control – ie the judges treat it as part of Israel – and therefore the court can issue a ruling. The judges’ verdict is a triumph for justice: the synagogue should be demolished.
However, now that the settlers have a piece of paper with the court’s decision stating that the land belongs to Kiryat Arba, they can bill the Palestinian family for years of arrears on property taxes amounting to $22,000 – more than the family earns in several years. If they don’t pay, the settlers will seize the land and sell it.
Heads the Jaabaris lose; tails they lose too. That’s Israeli occupiers’ justice.
What do you think? Have I gone a bit too far? Too crazy to be credible.
Or have I simply plagiarised this story from the Times of Israel, where exactly this just happened to the Jaabari family?
AL-KHALIL – The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested at dawn Wednesday the journalist Alaa Jaber Titi, 33, after violently breaking into his home in Aroub refugee camp to the north of al-Khalil.
Family sources told a PIC reporter that more than one hundred Israeli soldiers surrounded Titi’s home and violently broke into his apartment.
The IOF arrested Titi, a reporter at al-Aqsa TV Channel, after carrying out searches in his house.
Titi’s arrest came only a week after his release from PA jails where he was detained for several times by PA security forces, in addition to spending four years behind Israeli bars.
Titi’s detention is considered the second arrest targeting journalists in two days after the journalist Mujahd Bani Mefleh was nabbed by Israeli forces on Monday from his home in Ramallah.
Palestine Center for Prisoners’ Studies pointed out in a statement issued Tuesday that 16 Palestinian journalists are currently held in Israeli prisons.
Journalists’ detention fell as part of Israel’s policy to cover up its crimes and violations against Palestinian people, the statement charged.
The human rights center stated that Israeli deliberate targeting of journalists will never succeed in hiding the truth or beautifying Israel’s image, calling on international media institutions and journalists’ syndicates to exercise pressures for the Palestinian detained journalists’ release.
For its part, Quds Press called on the Israeli authorities to immediately release its reporter Mohamed Muna and all the journalists illegally held in its jails.
Along the same line, Palestinian media forum strongly condemned Israel’s fierce arrest campaign against journalists; most recently was the detention of Titi and Mefleh.
The Forum said that following the two journalists’ arrest in the West Bank, the number of journalists held in Israeli prisons increased to reach 17.
The media forum also denounced the pregnant journalist Juman Abu Arafa’s detention on Monday while leaving al-Aqsa Mosque before being released and prevented from having access to the holy shrine for 15 days.
The forum warned against tight Israeli restrictions imposed on journalists working to reveal settlers’ crimes and Judaization policy in occupied Jerusalem.
“We call on International Federation of Journalists and Reporters Without Borders to bear their responsibilities and break their silence towards Israeli escalated violations against journalists in occupied territories, and to work for their release”, the forum’s statement concluded.
Beit Ummar, Occupied Palestine – Early Tuesday morning January 20, 2015 at 3:00 AM, Israeli occupation forces invaded the home of the Abu Maria family in the village of Beit Ummar. The occupation army used explosives to open the front door, surprising the sleeping family. This is the second violent night raid the family has experienced this week. Israeli soldiers were looking for Nidal, Ghassan, and Mohammed Abu Maria, three brothers who were summoned by the Israeli intelligence for questioning.
Window broken during Israeli army nigh raid
The mother of the family, 42 years old, was attacked as soon as the invading soldiers entered the home. Her arms were violently jerked behind her back, and once she was tied up, she was beaten on her head, neck and arms. One of the family’s five sons, Mohye, 18 years old, was cut on his face, neck and fingers. The attacking soldiers demanded he tell them where his brothers were.
The family’s father, Ahmed Abu Maria, has been imprisoned by the Israeli occupation forces for four months. The morning of the attack, Ahmed was taken into interrogation where Israeli investigators informed him that his family would be targeted that night. Ahmed related that he was told: “Tonight we will go to your family’s home. We will hit your wife, your daughter and your kids.” He was not allowed to warn or communicate these threats in any way to his family. The next day, Ahmed was allowed to contact his family and hear what happened to them during the night raid. The family describes this as psychological torture, designed to put pressure on the imprisoned father.
The occupation forces remained at the family’s home until nearly 7:00 AM. When they finally decided to depart the house, the invading soldiers left behind two official requests in Hebrew for the appearance of Nidal, Ghassan, and Mohammed the following morning at 8:30 AM at the prison in the nearby illegal settlement of Kfar Etzion. The family tried to explain to the occupation forces that two of the sons did not live in Beit Ummar, but farther north and it would be impossible for them to make the trip in time.
During the violent invasion at the Abu Maria’s house, the occupation forces also searched the neighboring uncle’s home for the youths. When they did not find the boys there as expected, and the family refused to tell the authorities exactly where they were living, the occupation forces stole over 3000 NIS (approximately $760 USD) from the uncle. This money was his life savings; without it, he does not know how he will survive.
Next morning the 20-year-old middle brother Ghassan Ahmad Abu Maria presented himself at Kfar Etzion prison as requested and was arrested. He is currently being held without charges and the family has been unable to get any information on his condition.
Photos by ISM
Beit Ummar, Occupied Palestine – Early Wednesday morning, January 14, 2015, a massive deployment of 400 Israeli occupation forces invaded the village of Beit Ummar, north of Hebron. From 2:00 – 5:00 am, the occupation forces invaded approximately 100 Palestinian homes, arresting 25 males and leaving notices for 15 additional males to meet with the Israeli intelligence.
Occupation soldiers invaded the private homes with violent force, blowing open the front doors with explosions, ransacking the rooms, breaking the furniture inside, smashing windows, and attacking the residents. One of the victims of this brutal invasion was the family of 25-year-old Nidal Abu Maria.
Nidal is the oldest son of Ahmed Abu Maria, who has been imprisoned for the last four months. According to the family, the occupation soldiers forcibly entered their home with large aggressive dogs, blowing the door open with explosives. Nidal’s mother, sister, and two brothers ages 6 and 7 were inside, and awoke shocked to find soldiers inside their home. The occupation forces locked Nidal’s mother in a separate room, away from her children, and took her phone, noting the family members phone numbers from it. The pregnant sister attempted to speak to the young boys, who were scared of the military invasion and their dogs, when the occupation forces violently hit her in the face and told her to keep quiet. In addition to physical violence against the family, the soldiers also ransacked the home, destroying the windows, the furniture, and the entire kitchen. Nearly 99 other houses were also invaded this same night, and experienced the same destruction.
During this brutal night invasion, 25 males were taken from their homes and arrested without any official charges or explanations. According to Ma’an News, those detained were as young as sixteen years old. The youths were not known activists nor had there been any protests in Beit Ummar since the massacre in Gaza for them to take part in. Five were released the next morning, while the rest still remain in custody. Additionally, the invading soldiers left official request notices for 15 residents of Beit Ummar to report to the Israeli Intelligence at the Kfar Etzion prison in the nearby Kfar Etzion settlement the following day. Nidal Abu Maria, along with his brother and cousin, were among those that were requested to report to Kfar Etzion.
Nidal decided to not comply with the occupying army’s request, and did not report to the prison at9:00 AM on Wednesday as the soldiers demanded. However, after the occupation forces called him and his mother on the phone, threatening the lives of the family, he felt he had no choice. When Nidal answered one of the many phone calls from the military and questioned why he should follow orders from an occupying military, the Secret Service member told him, “I am the state of Israel, I am the one who has power, I am the law”.
Nidal and his brother reported to the Kfar Etzion prison on Thursday morning and were interrogated for several hours by the Israeli intelligence. During the interrogation when the brothers were being questioned, they were told, “We want to make sure you guys are ok, and that you are doing the right things and not the wrong things.” Additionally, the interrogator told Nidal, “If you miss your uncle (the martyr), I will send you to him.” Nidal interprets this as a direct threat against his life.
Nidal’s family is no stranger to such violence at the hands of the Israeli occupation. Nidal’s father has been detained and imprisoned eight times for a total length of five years – once on charges of organizing peaceful protests in Beit Ummar, while the other seven times were without official charges. Additionally, Nidal’s uncle Hashem Abu Maria was executed on July 25, 2014 during a peaceful protest against the 2014 massacre in Gaza. Hashem was shot in the heart by an Israeli sniper on the main street, while encouraging the children to go home rather than risk being hurt in the demonstration. Hashem worked for the Defence For Children International documenting child-rights violation in Hebron and according to Haaretz, this was the role that Hashem played in many protests. Nidal’s aunt, the wife of Hashem, has suffered greatly since his death, and even months later she is still afraid to sleep in the house without him.
Ten days after Hashem’s assassination, the occupation forces invaded Beit Ummar and arrested Ahmed, Nidal’s father. He is currently still imprisoned and has not been officially charged with any crime. Despite not facing official charges, Nidal’s family is told that he faces three years in prison.
In the year of 2014, over 400 residents of Beit Ummar were arrested and over 120 residents are still currently imprisoned, some without official charges. Additionally, 3 residents were killed during this time. When asked why Beit Ummar experiences such frequent violence at the hands of the occupation army, Nidal explains it has a lot to do with its location. “Beit Ummar is surrounded by three settlements: Migdal Oz, Kfar Etzion and Karmei Zur. The village is located close to the main road that connects the settlements from Bethlehem to Hebron. The official explanation from the occupation forces are that these actions are taken against Beit Ummar for ‘security reasons’.” These nearby settlements have confiscated nearly one third of the village’s land which is located in Area C. Additionally, much of the military violence against Beit Ummar can be attributed to their strong commitment to resistance against the occupation. Beit Ummar was the site of nearly two protests every week during the 2014 attack on Gaza.
For residents of Beit Ummar the recent violence happens whenever there is a new commander in the area. Nidal explains that the commanders like to introduce themselves by sending a strong message to the local Palestinian population. The new commander in the Beit Ummar area goes under the name Abu Abed and is a former member of the Israeli Intelligence.
The family’s cherished almond and cherry orchards are a thing of the past; only a few straggling trees survived the bulldozers of the Israeli Antiquities Authorities (IAA) in the last year. On 31 December 2014, the Abu Haikel family had their case protesting Israel’s takeover of the land on which they held a protected tenancy contract for more than sixty years heard in the Israeli High Court, only to find that the State of Israel, in a secret deal, had given the land to Hebron settlers in 2012. And this week, a section of the family’s retaining walls collapsed yet again because of the digging beneath them; the footpath to one of their front doors is also danger of collapse.
In the High Court hearing, the three judges glossed over why Israel took over the tenancy from the Abu Haikels in the first place and said they had done nothing to establish tenancy despite the fact they have faithfully paid rent on it for decades (See link to timeline below). However one judge still expressed her shock over the behavior of the State. She asked what criteria Israel had used for giving the land to the Jewish settlers of Hebron instead of putting the land on the market.
Nevertheless, the attitude of the court does not seem likely to produce an outcome favorable to the Abu Haikels. On their side is one lawyer supplied by the Hebron municipality; against them are three lawyers representing the State of Israel, the Jewish settlers of Hebron and the Israeli Antiquities Authority.
And in the meantime, despite the fact that no reputable archeological enterprise accomplishes its work with bulldozers, the family watches as the IAA continues to destroy its property and the property of its neighbors.
A member of the family visited Christian Peacemaker Teams on 14 January to update them on the family’s legal situation and next steps. He said a meeting was in the process of coming together with the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, the PA Ministry of Tourism and some Israeli solidarity groups, but the prospects for improvement in the family’s fortunes look bleak.
“It’s very depressing to be in a situation where you never really win,” he said. “When the walls come down, you know they’re never going to be replaced…People ask us now, ‘Why are you bothering to put up a fight to save the land?’ What’s the point?’”
When asked why the family continues to resist, he replied, “Well if you don’t stop them at every point, the whole thing keeps on shrinking. The family has a huge fear that they will lose not just their land but their houses as well. Emmanuel Eisenburg, the so called ‘archaeologist’ in charge of the excavation has said he wants to dig under their houses because that’s where the Canaanite city was.”
A timeline of settlement expansion on the Abu Haikel’s land through 2014 is available here.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Checkpoints are numerous and inescapable in the H2 area of al-Khalil (Hebron), where thousands of soldiers guard around 600 Israeli Zionist settlers occupying heavily militarised settlement enclaves in the heart of the most populous Palestinian city in the West Bank. The Israeli military imposes numerous restrictions on the freedom of movement of Palestinians in the neighbourhoods of H2, affecting people as they attempt to live, work, study, and travel through their city. Shuhada checkpoint, leading from the H2 neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida into Palestinian-administered H1, is one of the larger and more heavily manned checkpoints.
One Israeli soldier looked through the purse of a young Palestinian woman as her daughter looked on. Even Palestinian children too young to carry bags for a soldier to search are subjected to the everyday sight of their older relatives being stopped, searched, questioned and detained by Israeli forces. Over a period of a couple of hours on Tuesday afternoon, an ISM activist witnessed Israeli soldiers stop and search around fifty Palestinian children, women, and men.
Barbed wire and fences frame the entry way into Shuhada checkpoint, as Israeli soldiers patrol the heavily militarised passage between the Palestinian neighbourhoods of Tel Rumeida and Bab el-Zawiye.
A very young Palestinian girl took a moment to look up at the heavily armed Israeli soldiers standing in her path. Armed with enormous rifles, chests strapped with body armour complete with pockets full of stun grenades and tear gas, the soldiers looked incongruous on the otherwise quiet, sunny street.
“I don’t understand why people think we want war, we just want peace,” one Israeli soldier told an ISM activist. The absurdity of his statement, as he stood with his rifle beside the checkpoint, seemed entirely lost on him. Deploying eighteen-year-olds with M16s to search kids’ shopping bags and their mothers’ purses, giving them control over the lives of Palestinians trying to keep surviving in the neighbourhoods of H2 in al-Khalil, creates a situation which, though it may sometimes seem quiet, is anything but peaceful. The soldiers stop whole families at the checkpoint: mothers, grandfathers, sisters laden with shopping bags. This young girl stood waiting off to the side as the Israeli military checked to make sure her relatives did not pose a “threat.”