4 December 2014
AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Israeli military attacks nonviolent demonstration protesting closure of Checkpoint 56
At a demonstration to protest the closure of Checkpoint 56 in Hebron on Saturday 29 November 2014, a torrent of teargas and sound grenades rained down from Israeli forces, who were occupying rooftops above Bab iZaweyya. Leading onto the small section of Shuhada street on which Palestinians are allowed to walk, Checkpoint 56 connects Bab iZaweyya (the commercial district which marks the boundary between Israeli-controlled H2 and Palestinian Authority governed H1 areas) to the neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida. Last week the checkpoint was set on fire during clashes, and the checkpoint has been closed by Israeli forces ever since. This act of collective punishment forces the families living in Tel Rumeida walk an extra hour—or that they walk through the residences and gardens of other Palestinians—to reach their own homes. These families therefore organised a nonviolent demonstration to protest this closure because it is another example of the daily harassment and routine restriction of the rights and movement of Palestinians living under occupation.
The families from Tel Rumeida and the organisation ‘Youth against Settlements,’ some of whom were waving flags and chanting “no to the occupation,” marched to the checkpoint. It took less than a minute for Israeli forces on the rooftops to fire the first teargas canister into the crowd of people, swiftly following up with a sound grenade. In the half hour that followed, they fired at least fifteen tear gas canisters and twelve sound grenades into the busy square of Bab i-Zawiya. As anger and frustration at the Israeli military mounted, Palestinians threw stones, but they did not reach the rooftops occupied by the heavily armed Israeli soldiers and police.
The two CPTers present, who were documenting, monitoring and photographing what was initially a nonviolent demonstration, also found themselves targeted by sound grenades and teargas by Israeli police. With the demonstration violently suppressed, clashes continued into the afternoon.
Video footage of the demonstration taken by CPT is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hhfv9sz8xh0&feature=youtu.be