Christian Peace Team, Nov. 29, 2014 - At a demonstration to protest the closure of checkpoint 56 in Hebron on Saturday 29.11.14, a torrent of teargas and sound grenades rained down from Israeli forces, also armed with live ammunition, who were occupying rooftops above Bab az- Zaweyeh. Leading onto the small section of Shuhada street on which Palestinians are allowed to walk, checkpoint 56 leads from Bab az-Zaweyeh (the central square which marks the boundary of Israeli controlled-H2, and Palestinian Authority governed H1) 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 demands that families living in Tel Rumeida walk an extra hour, or that they walk through the homes and gardens of other Palestinians, to reach their homes. These families therefore organised a nonviolent demonstration to protest this closure, which is another example of the daily harassment and routine restriction of the rights and movement of Palestinians living under occupation.
The demonstration was a nonviolent march towards the checkpoint, attended by families from Tel Rumeida and the organisation ‘Youth against Settlements’, some of whom were waving flags and chanting “no to the occupation”. It took less than a minute before Israeli forces, who were already occupying rooftops nearby, to fire the first teargas canister into the crowd of people, swiftly followed by a sound grenade. In the half hour that followed, at least 15 tear gas canisters and 12 sound grenades were fired by Israeli forces into the busy square of Bab az-Zaweyeh. As anger and frustration at the sheer repressive force of the Israeli military mounted, stones were also thrown by Palestinians, yet were unable to reach the rooftops occupied by the heavily armed Israeli soldiers and police. The two CPTers who were in attendance, documenting, monitoring and photographing what was initially a nonviolent demonstration, were also directly targeted by sound grenades and teargas, by Israeli police who were also pointing live ammunition into the crowd. With the demonstration violently suppressed, clashes continued into the afternoon.