Hebron will remain an icon

Israeli soldiers approach Palestinian demonstrators with teargas. Placard reads “Hebron will remain an icon.”

“Al-Khalil will remain an icon of the resistance to occupation and settlements.”

These were the words on one of the placards carried by hundreds of demonstrators in al-Khalil (Hebron) on 26 November. Palestinians marched peacefully from the Russian Orthodox monastery, known locally as al-Maskobiyeh, through the heart of the city. Some of the demonstrators carried their message right up to the line of Israeli soldiers blocking the route through the Bab az-Zawiyeh intersection near the Old City.

The demonstrators in Hebron were among thousands throughout the West Bank who observed a “Day of Rage” in response to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who recently declared that U.S. policy no longer recognizes international law as applying to Israeli settlements.

Organizers of the demonstration had also planned to call for the release of terminally ill prisoner Sami Abu Diak, detained in an Israeli hospital, who had hoped to die surrounded by his family. The Israeli administration had refused this request. Sami died on the morning of 26 November as the Day of Rage began.

The parallel Day of Rage event in Ramallah drew 2,000 participants, who heard political official Mahmoud Aloul respond to Pompeo with these words: “The biased American policy toward Israel, and the American support of the Israeli settlements and the Israeli occupation, leave us with only one option: to go back to resistance.”

Similar themes marked the event in Hebron. A Day of Rage banner in front of al-Maskobiyeh proclaimed: “No to apartheid imposed by Israeli forces in Jerusalem and Hebron.” The demonstrators’ “NO” was strong, consistent, and nonviolent. Israeli forces responded to the demonstration with an armed formation at Bab az-Zawiyeh, complete with riot shields, teargas guns, stun grenades, and rubber-coated bullets. All of this constituted a predictable invitation by Israeli forces to a small number of young Palestinians to express their rage by throwing stones and burning old tires. CPT observers documented 31 Israeli teargas canisters and 25 stun grenades during the ten hours following the main demonstration, along with one ambulance run and one burn injury treated at the scene. The Palestinian Red Crescent documented 77 injuries throughout the Palestinian cities participating in Day of Rage demonstrations, including teargas inhalation, rubber bullet wounds, and burns.

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© 2015 With love from Hebron.
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