Hundreds demand reopening of key Palestinian street

HEBRON, Palestinian Territories - Hundreds of Palestinians protested Friday in Hebron to demand the city’s main street be reopened after an 18-year closure by the Israeli military on security grounds.

By (AFP)

Published: Fri 24 Feb 2012, 7:40 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 2:24 PM

Shuhada Street was partially closed off to the Palestinian public some 18 years ago shortly after a Jewish extremist from a nearby settlement gunned down 29 Muslim worshippers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, on February 25, 1994.

Six years later, the street was completely sealed off to public access at the outset of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, which erupted in September 2000, with the military declaring it a “closed military zone.”

“This demonstration is part of an international campaign to reopen Shuhada Street which is the main road to the Ibrahimi Mosque and many other stores and homes that are closed in the heart of Hebron,” organiser Issa Amr told AFP, using the Muslim name for the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

An AFP correspondent at the scene said about 500 people had joined the march towards Shuhada Street, carrying Palestinian flags and huge banners reading “End the apartheid.”

But they were blocked by troops, who broke up the march by firing tear gas, sound bombs and a foul-smelling liquid known as “skunk,” he said.

Five demonstrators were arrested and another injured, one of whom was Arab Israeli MP Mohammed Barakeh who was hit in the leg by a stun grenade, witnesses and a statement from his office said.

The Israeli army had no immediate comment on the demonstration, nor could it confirm any arrests.

In a statement, organisers of the demonstration said they wanted to establish February 25 as “an international day of struggle to reopen Shuhada Street.”

On February 25 1994, Baruch Goldstein, a doctor from Kiryat Arba settlement gunned down 29 worshippers as they prayed at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a site holy to both Jews and Muslims, before being shot dead himself.

He was a member of a banned racist group, which advocates the forcible expulsion of all Arabs from the biblical “Greater Israel”.

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