Friday, November 7, 2008

Opening Hebron

This week the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee is organizing different events and actions to bring life to the old city of Hebron.

For decades Israelis have been living illegally in the old city, taking over Palestinian homes and throwing garbage, dirty water, and chunks on concrete onto the Palestinian merchants and passersby. Many shops have been closed by Israeli military orders but even more shops are closed because the Israeli settlers and Israeli soldiers harass people and--prior to HRC's renovation of streets and removal of roadblocks--made it nearly impossible for cars to reach the old city.

Some of the major streets in the old city are closed off to Palestinians completely.

I went to Hebron on Tuesday with my husband and two friends from California. I had to do some last minute shopping for the annual holiday bazaar (mark your calendars for Dec 13!) at one of the three open textile shops in the old city. We walked passed dozens of closed shops and only saw a handful of other people. It should be a bustling market like the old cities in Bethlehem and Jerusalem but instead Hebron is a ghost town. (Note: I purchased keffiyahs made at a factory in Hebron but thanks to globalization, this factory is now competing with Chinese-made keffiyehs.)

My friend and tour guide extraordinaire met us in the old city and took us on a mini walking tour to see some of the racist graffiti by settlers, the wire nets that catch some of the garbage and stones settlers throw out their windows, and examples of the renovations that HRC has done to make it easier for people to live and work in the old city.

Of course, for Hebron to really come back to life, the streets, the houses, and the shops must be returned to their rightful owners. But in the meantime HRC distributed thousands of Palestinian flags to businesses and homes to show that despite the constant attempts to drive people out, Hebron is a Palestinian city.

You can join the HRC's campaign by sending a letter (sample below) to lift the closures:

Introduction to the letter:

The sufferance of 180,000 Palestinian citizens continues in Hebron Old City due to Israel’s eight-year-long closure of the city centre.
United Nations humanitarian affairs reports indicated that more than 101 roadblocks, barricades and military checkpoints are preventing the pursuance of normal life in the city and are tearing its old part to shreds, for the sole purpose of protecting 400 Israeli settlers living in the city.
We invite you to take part in the National Campaign Against Israeli Closures in Hebron Old City launched by city citizens and organizations calling for an end to this blockade by sending the attached letter, or any other text requesting the lift of the siege, to the addresses of Israel’s Prime Minister, its Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs, and to the Speaker of the Knesset.

Text of the letter:

We refuse the closure imposed on Hebron’s Old City and demand that the Israeli government and Israeli occupation authorities lift the blockade, thus allowing Palestinian citizens to enjoy freedom of travel and normal mobility in their own city.

Addresses to which the letter should be sent:

Prime Minister Office -,
Tel. 02-6705555, Fax. 02-6705475

Minister of Defense (Barak),
Tel. 03-6976663, Fax. 03-6976218

Also, please send a copy of the letter to us at the following e-mails: