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In Photos: “Welcome to Apartheid Street” — Hebron demonstration goes awry

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By Nigel O‘Connor - September 18, 2011
Section: [Main News] [IN PICTURES]
Tags: [ethnic cleansing] [Hebron] [Shuhada Street] [Israeli army] [Settlers] [protests]

Palestinian activists staged a symbolic name changing of Shuhada Street to “Apartheid Street” last week in Hebron. The action was organized by the group Youth Against Settlements to highlight conditions faced by residents of Hebron, where approximately 500 Israeli settlers occupy the town’s center under the protection of the Israeli military.

After erecting a razor-wire barrier, Israeli army personnel watched on as a makeshift sign was erected and stencils sprayed onto roadblocks with the words “Welcome to Apartheid Street.” Youth Against Settlements spokesperson, Isa Mohammed, said the name change was entirely appropriate. “For residents, apartheid is the reality,” he said. “This was the major north-south access road in Hebron until it was closed to residents. There are 200,000 Palestinians denied access to their homes, mosques, schools and businesses.”

He called on the Israeli government to open Shuhada Street and end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. “Until we change the situation here, we will use the name Apartheid Street,” he said. “We ask the world to support our cause for peace, non-violence, self-determination and UN membership.”

Shuhada Street was closed to Palestinians since the murder of 29 worshipers at Ibrahim Mosque, by Israeli Barak Goldstein, in 1994. It is the main access point to the Israeli settlement and a checkpoint—manned by the Israeli military—has been established to monitor people entering.

In a display of Palestinian disunity, Azmi Al-Shouki from the Palestine Popular Committee, attempted to hijack the press conference by shouting at the media. “I do not support changing the name of Shuhada Street,” he said.  “The occupation makes apartheid but this our land and we should not change the name of the street.”

His departure was followed by the arrival of a number of Palestinians that began tearing down the signs. They spray-painted over the stencils which read “Apartheid Street” and wrote “Shuhada Street” instead.

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