As I mentioned in a previous post, Hebron is a fascinating microcosm of the Israel/Palestine conflict. One obvious example is the case of Shuhada Street.
The city of Hebron is divided into two primary zones: H1 and H2. H1 is primarily under the administration of the Palestinian Authority, though the Israeli army reserves the right to enter at any time without opposition. H2 is under the jurisdiction of the Israeli military. H2 is also where a number of Israeli settlements are located. You can see in the map below that the Old City of Hebron, almost entirely Palestinian, is located within H2. I am also currently staying in the Old City. Since it is part of H2, you will come across roaming Israeli army patrols and Israeli checkpoints and watch/sniper towers while walking through the streets.
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In the map above, to the left and slightly below the Old City, you will see Al-Shuhada Street. Al-Shuhada Street is strictly off-limits to local Palestinians. For example, today, I was planning on walking down Shuhada Street but my fellow Palestinian photographer was unable to accompany me and went back to our guest house.
Below you will see a photo of Shuhada Street taken from the roof of the CPT house in the Old City.
To give you an example of how strict the travel restrictions for Palestinians using Shuhada Street are, let me give you an example. Let’s say that I am standing with my Palestinian friend at the location above. If we both want to visit the Muslim cemetery, I, being an American (or more importantly, not a Palestinian), can just cross the street. He, on the other hand, has a much longer trip ahead of him. If wants to walk, he will have to walk about 1.5km and enter the cemetery from H1. If he wants to drive to the cemetery, the trip is approximately 12km.
Let me illustrate this even further. Along Shuhada Street, there are many Palestinian homes. Their front doors are located on Shuhada Street. Unfortunately, since Palestinians cannot use this road, they cannot use the front doors of their home. Instead they have to enter from behind in the Old City. The stairs on the roof below are used by a Palestinian family to enter their second or third floor home because they are not allowed to use the front door.
From inside the Old City, Israel has constructed large barricades blocking any access to Shuhada Street or any other areas that are used by Israeli settlers. Below is a photo of one such barricade:
Israeli settlers are subject to no such restrictions.
Israel occupied the West Bank after the 1967 Six Day war. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, it is illegal for an occupying power to resettle its civilian population to occupied land. Imagine the US government offering housing and tax incentives for Americans to move to Baghdad in order to make it a permanent part of the United States. That is precisely what Israel has done. To put it into numbers, there are only about 400-500 Israeli settlers in Hebron, all protected by the Israeli army, while there are approximately 166,000 Palestinians.
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