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February 13, 2016 children join sit-in protest in front on Shuhada Street checkpoint in Hebron
Around 50 children joined the ongoing sit-in protest outside of the Shuhada Street checkpoint today in Hebron. The children and their families, from the Tel Rumeida and Shuhada Street, neighborhoods, were there in protest of the ongoing military closures and restrictions that impact every part of their daily lives. They also came to express solidarity with hunger striking Palestinian political prisoner, Mohammed Al-Qeeq.
The children’s activities included balloons, face painting, and arts and crafts. They created posters for the upcoming 7th annual Open Shuhada Street campaign that will take place around the world between February 19-28 (in Hebron on February 25). The event was organized by the Hebron-based Palestinian human rights organization Youth Against Settlements.
YAS organizers and activists began the sit-in on January 7 in protest of the increased restrictions and closed military zone orders in the Shuhada Street and Tel Rumeida street neighborhoods that have been in place since November 1, 2015. The YAS organization, and its activists, are currently being targeted by the closed military zone orders, with the YAS center having been declared a closed military zone since December 2015.
Youth Against Settlements encourages people to sign the Open Shuhada Street petition, by the US organization, CODEPINK, calling on the US Department of Justice to pressure the Israeli government to open Shuhada Street to all people. The hashtag, #OpenShuhada is being used.
11-year-old Marwan sharabati, who drew an Open Shuhada Street poster, explained that he and his family came to the sit-in tent today to ask the international community to help them to live in peace and dignity. He expressed that he wants to play without a closed military zone or checkpoint and without violence from settlers.
YAS coordinator and founder, Issa Amro, explained the reasons behind the ongoing sit-in protest: “The families are protesting because they want to live in peace and equality without checkpoints, closures, restrictions, and attacks by settlers and the military. We refuse to be registered as numbers and have our human rights violated just because we are Palestinian.”