A group of Palestinian and international activists organized an Iftar -- the meal eaten after a day of fasting during the Muslim holy month Ramadan -- in front of an Israeli military checkpoint in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron Sunday evening, after being prevented from passing through to dine at the home of a local activist.
A coalition of local activists were invited to the Iftar by their colleague Mufid Sharabati, who lives on Shuhada street, as part of the “Dismantle the Ghetto” campaign that calls for ending the Israeli military’s closure on the street and other restrictions on movement for Palestinians in Hebron.
After arriving to the checkpoint, Israeli forces stationed at the entrance to Shuhada street prevented the activists from crossing through the checkpoint, as their names were not registered on the list of residents there, "so the activists decided to take Iftar in the street in front of the military checkpoint,” Majid Abu Sbeih of the National Campaign to Lift the Closure of Hebron told Ma’an.
Abu Sbeih said the actions were organized "to defy claims by Israeli authorities that special procedures have been taken to facilitate citizens' movement during Ramadan."
“While Israeli authorities talk about taking these measures during Ramadan in the occupied territory, more restrictions are actually being imposed on certain neighborhoods in Hebron city, such as Salayma and al-Hariqa and others," Hisham Sharabati from Dismantle the Ghetto said.
The restrictions of movement, he added, “deprives residents of taking part in Ramadan’s rituals, such as gathering with relatives and eating Iftar together.”
“Guests, friends, and relatives who receive invitations to Iftar are either denied access to homes completely or are forced to take long bypass roads on foot due to the Israeli checkpoints,” he said.
Coordinator of Human Rights Defenders in Palestine Badee Dwaik said that the action was “a message to the international community, to expose the situation in which families on Shuhada street are living. We want the international community to learn more about these invisible things, these daily humiliations that Palestinians are facing here.”
“The most simple, basic rights -- such as the right to freedom of movement -- that should apply to humans everywhere, do not apply to families here. People here are living in cages, given a number, and isolated from their communities.”
Dwaik also said that the special permits that Israel granted to 700 Palestinians residing in the occupied West Bank to visit their families in Israel for the holiday was a "ridiculously low number itself," and was "even more of a joke since the Palestinians living in Al-Khalil (Hebron) are denied freedom of movement."
Shuhada street had once been the center of commercial life in Hebron until the 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque massacre when a US-born Israeli settler from the notoriously aggressive Kiryat Arba settlement entered the mosque and opened fire on worshipers, killing 29 Palestinians.
The massacre erupted into mass protests across the occupied West Bank and Gaza, which the Israeli army reacted to by killing dozens of unarmed protesters and ordering hundreds of Palestinian-owned businesses on Shuhada street to close, eventually sealing the street off completely from Palestinians.
Following the massacre, the city was divided between Palestinian and Israeli-controlled zones.
The majority of the city was placed under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, while the Old City and surrounding areas were placed under Israeli military control in a sector known as H2.
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