Palestine: clashes as hundreds protest in Hebron

Israeli forces fired rubber-coated bullets at protesters in the West Bank city of Hebron Feb. 25, leaving at least nine people injured. Four international activists and two Palestinians were detained, organizers said. The military said that only one person was arrested. The demonstration, which called for the reopening of one of the city’s main streets, came on the anniversary of the 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinians in Hebron by a Jewish extremist.

Protesters, who waved Palestinian flags chanting “Down with the occupation!” and “Hebron is Palestinian,” said they were trying to reopen central Shuhada (Martyrs) Street, once home to the city’s main market. Israel largely closed off the street, citing security, after the 1994 massacre in the Ibrahimi Mosque (Cave of the Patriarchs). Hebron governor Kamel Hamid participated in the march. The Israeli military called the march “a violent and illegal riot,” putting the number of marchers at around 300. Organizers and the AFP put the figure at 1,000.

Hebron, the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank, is also home to around 600 religious Jewish settlers, most of whom live in the area around Shuhada Street. In 2003, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled for Palestinian traders, ordering that the settlers be evicted and the market reopened, but the orders were never implemented. Under a 1997 accord with the Palestinian Authority, Israeli troops evacuated 80% of the city, but continue to protect the settlers in the area. (Ma’an News Agency, Feb. 25)

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