PRESS RELEASE Israeli soldiers Interrupt Open Shuhada Street Art Event in Front of Shuhada street Checkpoint

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Issa Amro  059 934 0549 issaamro@gmail.com

Israeli soldiers Interrupt Art Event Held by Youth Against Settlements in Front of Shuhada street Checkpoint

21 February. The Israeli army interrupted a nonviolent event organized by Youth Against Settlements. Young art students from Palestine Polytechnic University had been invited to paint a mural in front of the checkpoint to Shuhada street. Around 100 people attended, roughly half of them students. Al Jazeera, Pal Media, Reuters, Al Quds TV, Watan TV, and other media outlets were present at the event. The event was part of Youth Against Settlements seventh annual Open Shuhada Street campaign that calls for lifting the restrictions on Hebron’s main street, which has been closed to Palestinians since 1994. The closure was a response to the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre earlier that year, when Brooklyn born Jewish settler, Baruch Goldstein, entered the Ibrahimi mosque and shot dead 29 Palestinians; 125 were injured in the attack. Youth Against Settlements hosts the Open Shuhada Street campaign each year to remember the massacre and its consequences, and to demand change. This year they are also calling for an end to the closed military zone in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron. SHuhada Street and much of the Tel Rumeida neighborhood were declared closed military zones on 30 October. The order was later expanded to include the Youth Against Settlements center in Tel Rumeida.

In addition to the painting of the mural, the organization had planned a street exhibition with photographs related to the occupation in Palestine. Youth Against Settlements was peacefully preparing the event by setting up the tent, attaching a photo exhibition to a wall, and arranging the canvas. People and news outlets had already gathered in anticipation of the event, when Israeli soldiers came out from the Shuhada Street checkpoint and interrupted it. The soldiers forced everyone behind the barricades and made them move the sit-in tent behind the barricade as well. Then they removed the photo exhibition by force and returned parts of the exhibition to the activists, damaging some of the photographs in the process. When Youth Against Settlements coordinator and founder, Issa Amro, and other activists began arguing with the army, one of the soldiers threatened to throw a stun grenade into the crowd. He then urged Amro away, using the hand holding the grenade. After keeping watch for a few minutes, the soldiers returned to the checkpoint and the event continued.

The students painted pictures that presented the occupation through an artistic perspective. Issa Amro spoke about the importance of art in the nonviolent Palestinian resistance to the occupation. During the painting at around 2 pm, a few young boys began throwing stones at the checkpoint before being stopped. Four or fives stones were thrown in total, and the boys were quickly scolded by the activists from Youth Against Settlements. A short while later, soldiers denied entrance to three young Palestinian girls and gathered behind the checkpoint gates. Ten-twenty minutes later, they came out from the checkpoint. They threw a stun grenade at a doorway, fired three shots of rubber-coated bullets, and threw several stun grenades.

At 10:35 PM, a group of seven soldiers came out from the checkpoint and began cutting down the memorial of Hadil Hashlamoun with an angle grinder. The memorial had been raised the previous day, following a press conference to commemorate the killing of Hadil Hashlamoun in late September. Documented footage of her killing indicated definitively that she had been unarmed and presenting no threat when she was shot. The soldiers removed her memorial and brought it with them to the checkpoint despite the protests of international activists who were witnessing to the ordeal.

The Open Shuhada Street campaign continues through 26 February, when it will culminate with a mass demonstration. The upcoming week-long events for the Open Shuhada Street campaign in Hebron will include exhibitions, movie screenings, demonstrations, and cultural events. The schedule is as follows:

  • Satuday 20 February 11:00 AM press conference and memorial for Hadeel Hadshlom Shuhada Street Entrance
  • Sunday 21 February 11:00 AM photo exhibition and painting – Shuhada Street Entrance
  • Monday 22 February all day photo exhibition – Shuhada Street Entrance
  • Monday 22 February 5:00 PM film screening Settlers on the Roof – YAS center, Tel Rumeida
  • Tuesday 23 February 4:00 PM cultural event – Shuhada Street Entrance
  • Wednesday 24 February 11:00 AM candle lighting and film screening – Alsalayhah neighborhood
  • Thursday 25 February 11:00 AM Ibrahimi mosque massacre memorial ceremony – Shuhada Street Entrance
  • Friday 26 February 11:00 AM Demonstration to open Shuhada Street – Nemreh mosque

Issa Amro, coordinator of Youth Against Settlements:

“Palestinian art in front of the checkpoint is a form of resistance to the Israeli occupation. Through art, we send a message to the occupiers and tell them that they cannot occupy our imagination and dreams of freedom and justice. Art can reach out to more people. It is about increasing the awareness of what is happening in Hebron.”

Mufeed Sharabati, a resident of Shuhada Street:

“These kinds of activities give the residents of Shuhada Street hope and motivation to stay in their homes.”.