Rajabi building update: Israeli court decides in favor settler ownership

The long disputed case of the Rajabi house in Wadi al Hussein in Hebron today saw a decision from the Israeli Supreme Court in favour of settler ownership of the house. EAPPI met with representatives of Youth Against Settlements (YAS) to discuss the issue. They expect that this development will likely see increased tension, as settlers have claimed that they will ‘take back’ the house. There is talk among Palestinian organizations such as YAS and Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC) to arrange demonstrations and other non-violent activities in the coming days in response to the decision. Coupled with the fact that the holiday of Purim is just in a few days, the coming week will probably see increased tension in the H2 area of Hebron.

In EAPPI’s fact sheet on the Rajabi building published last September, we point out that the decision to give the house to Israeli settlers is against international law as it means the establishment of a new settlement in Hebron.  This decision hinders the current peace process and could have severe humanitarian implications for Palestinians who live in the vicinity of the Rajabi building.

For more, read our fact sheet on the Rajabi case and its humanitarian implications, watch an animated film created by some of our EAs, and read our previous posts about the case.

Also read, Palestinians lose appeal over Hebron house ownership.

The Struggle for Shuhada Street

This is part 3 in a 3-part series on the closure of Shuhada street and its impact on the community of Hebron.

by Sarah, Hebron team Group 50

Open Shuhada Street demonstrations from 2011. This year's week of solidarity will be February 21-25. Photo EAPPI/L. Tuominen.

Open Shuhada Street demonstrations from 2011. This year’s week of solidarity will be February 21-25. Photo EAPPI/L. Tuominen.

For years Palestinian residents of Hebron have been prohibited from walking on the majority of the city’s main road, Shuhada Street. Even those who live in the houses lining the street are denied access. An entire generation of Palestinians have never set foot on the main street of their city. Instead they are required to search for detours to access the mosque, the market, and several schools. As Hebron resident Jawad explains:

“Shuhada Street is the lifeblood to Hebron. Shutting down the street is like someone who has a sick heart. So he needs to have open-heart surgery.”

According to the “Agreed Minute” in the Hebron Protocol of January 1997, the process of reopening Shuhada Street “would begin immediately, and would be completed within four months.” It is now January 2014, 17 years since the agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organisation was agreed upon, signed, and ratified, and yet Shuhada Street remains closed, empty, and useless. There appears to be no plans by Israel authorities to follow through on the internationally recognized agreement.

There are several organisations committed to realising the reopening of Shuhada Street most notably the Youth Against Settlements (YAS) initiated Open Shuhada Street Campaign (OSC). The aim of the campaign is simple: put pressure on the Israeli government through non-violent means to allow access to Shuhada Street for all people regardless of nationality, ethnicity, or religion. The campaign “protests the segregationist nature of the closure of the area and of the division that has been created in Hebron”, says Irene Nasser, a Palestinian activist.

The South African based organization Open Shuhada Street “aims (to) raise awareness about the lack of freedom of movement in Hebron in the West Bank, and how this reflects some of the worst manifestations of the ongoing Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Territories.” Like YAS and OSC, Open Shuhada Street is committed to bringing about change using non-violent means such as advocacy and protest.

You may wonder why such a fuss is being made about a single street when there must be multiple other streets available in Hebron.

For Jawad, born and raised in Hebron:

the “reopening of Shuhada is equivalent to a return of Hebron and life returning to the body.”

He explains that today he is required to walk 5km to a destination that he previously only had to walk 1km to reach. The simple inconvenience of a closed street not only interrupts daily activities but also reiterates the separation and access control policies of the Israeli occupation. The restrictions in force on Shuhada Street exemplify the imposed inequalities in Hebron and across the West Bank.

What can you do to help the struggle for freedom to Shuhada Street? Join the Open Shuhada Street Campaign (OSC) from 21 to 25 February 2014. Activists and organisations across the world will stand in solidarity with the residents of Hebron and all Palestinians through protest and other non-violent actions. The initiative began in 2010 to “demand the opening of Shuhada Street to Palestinians and an end to the Israeli occupation.” Connect with your local OSC or create one in your area. Use the hashtag #OpenShuhadaSt to spread the word and join the resistance. For more information contact media.yas@gmail.com

In the occupation every action, regardless of how small it is, has an eventful impact. Nothing is insignificant. Nothing is unimportant. One street in Hebron represents so much suffering, so much discrimination, and so much hope. Let’s struggle to open Shuhada Street together!