I posted a video on Facebook that seemed to cause a bit of confusion in my viewers, so I thought it might warrant a bit of explanation. You see, many thought that this watermelon might actually pose a real threat. The reality is, however, that this was a case of harassment pure and simple. To understand why, there’s a few things you have to know.
Hebron is the only Palestinian city with Israeli settlements in the middle of it. They are built in and around the Old City, which traditionally served as the commercial center for the entire southern West Bank. For those of you unfamiliar with the settler-occupied portion of Hebron, it’s a place where there are about 20 active checkpoints in a square kilometer of the Old City. The majority of the main street here—Shuhada Street—has been closed to Palestinians by the Israeli army. Only settlers and internationals are allowed to walk along it. A small portion of it is open to passage by Palestinians—about 200 feet. This is where this video takes place.
A few key things to know:
- To get to this part of the street you have to pass at least one of two checkpoints, both of which have metal detectors.
- Large areas just to the east and south of Shuhada street are unregulated (i.e. there are no checkpoints there). That is the way that anyone up to mischief would enter, as they could easily sneak in without having to pass any Israeli checkpoints, metal detectors, or soldiers. The only people using the checkpoints are residents trying to get to their houses.
- This video takes place at a checkpoint.
- The soldiers know that only residents use this route—that anyone wishing to create violence would come from the other direction where they can do so unseen and with any weapon they wish. (This includes access to this checkpoint—it’s all very easy from the other direction.)
- This video takes place during a military closure that only allows residents to pass. The man with the watermelon is a known resident.
The point of this video is to highlight the ridiculous amount of repression and oppression that the Palestinian residents of Hebron have to go through on a daily basis. They are not allowed cars in this area (the settlers are). They are forced to go through checkpoints that look like cattle guards just to go to the store. (The settlers come and go freely.) They have no access to their houses or goods that on Shuhada street. They are frequently detained for hours at a time, sometimes at each checkpoint. And if they provide any non-violent resistance to these tactics (i.e. filming with video cameras), they’re targeted even further. This video is merely one of the more ridiculous examples of something that happens on a fairly regular basis.
As many of you know, I generally only post things that I can verify personally (unless merely stating my opinion). I can verify that this watermelon incident did, in fact, happen.
From the Wikipedia entry:
In February 1994, a Jewish settler from Kiryat Arba killed 29 Muslims in the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre. Subsequently, the Yitzhak Rabin-led Government closed the Palestinian shops and prohibited Palestinian vehicular traffic in the nearby Shuhada Street, to protect the settlers. The army closed down 304 shops and warehouses along Shuhada Street, as well as Palestinian municipal and governmental offices. The central bus station was turned into an army base. The Tomb of the Patriarchs was divided into separate sections for Jewish and Muslim worshipers.