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Peaceful March Through the Old City in Hebron

Al Khahil [Hebron] is one of the oldest city in the world, dating its history back to 4,000 years. It is considered the fourth holiest city in the Muslim tradition, after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. The city faces constant clashes between the Muslims and the Jewish population, some very violent crimes happened in the 20th century, committed by both sides.

Al Khahil/Hebron is the only Palestinian city in which approximately 450 Jews live amidst the Palestinian majority. A Palestinian massacre of Jews occurred in 1929 and all those who survived, many of whom had been protected by their Muslim neighbors, left the city. After 1967, ten Jewish families returned in the city center, in order to preserve the Jewish presence and culture in the city which according to some radical views, belongs to the Jews.

The massacre of 29 Palestinians in the Ibrahimi Mosque in the 90s led to the so-called Hebron agreement, in which the city is divided into area H1, under Palestinian administrative control, and area H2, Israeli security control. Although geographically the city is united, and all the services are commonly provided by the Hebron Municipality; the Jewish quarter forms a separate entity in the Old City. The city is also surrounded by several settlements and separation walls.

MPT visited Hebron and participated in a very peaceful demonstration this past week. There have been violent clashes between the Israeli Occupation Forces, Israeli settlers and the local Palestinians during demonstrations.

The past demonstrations` trade mark’ was the so-called “hate march”, organized by the Jewish settlers under the protection of the Israeli Occupation Forces. Every Saturday at 3:00 PM the gate which separates the two communities would open, and approximately 100 Jewish people would march in the Old City`s market, spitting in Palestinians faces, calling them crude and ugly names, destroying shops, hitting people, and giving speeches in front of different historical sites. The message of these marches was about installing Jewish domination in all Hebron and the re-occupation of the former Jewish properties, according to the Zionist theory.

Saturday, the 12th of June, the Palestinian demonstrators, accompanied by a few international activists, organized their protest in front of the separation gate at 3:00 PM, the time of the “hate march”. Protesters gave speeches, chanted in Arabic and English, and sang songs. The Jewish settlers, who started gathering at the top of the road, and settler youth on tops of buildings were did not come out on a march or to retaliate. After a while , they left.

The demonstration continued with a “peace tour” in the beautiful Old Suk/market, but the protesters had to run not to be “soaked ” by sewage water coming from the roof of the buildings, thrown by the Jewish settlers who live above these streets. Settlers have thrown garbage, cans, bottles and dirt.

The palestinian inhabitants in
the Old City protect their
livelihood with wire fences
against the trash thrown by the
jewish settlers

The demonstration ended with the safe arrival of the protesters in front of the separation gate, where new speeches and chants were expressed. Surprisingly, a smiling happy face appeared near where 4 armed soldiers had stood and near an Israeli soldier in a tower, who apparently protested with the Palestinians, but from the other side of the gate.

After two hours of peaceful protest, MPT and all participants dispersed safely, acknowledging that no violence occurred from any of the sides involved.

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