25 Feb, MELBOURNE: Protest the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in Hebron “Open Shuhada Street” February 18, 2012

WHEN: 25 February at 3.00pm

WHERE:  North Australian Diamonds Limited Level 8, 580 St Kilda Road Melbourne VIC 3004

Demand Josef Gutnick withdraws support for the settlements (he is on the board of the company supporting these settlements)

Shuhada street, located in the city of Hebron in the West Bank, lays bare the reality of apartheid that Palestinians are forced to live under in the Occupied Territories. It is a fragment of the segregated living that exists in Hebron, now divided into H1 and Israeli-controlled H2 zones. This street serves as a thoroughfare from the north to the south of the city, passing by the major markets, the Old City, Tomb of the Patriarchs and the notorious Israeli settlements – the only problem is that it remains closed to its Palestinian inhabitants and visitors.

In 1994, following the massacre carried out by the settler Baruch Goldstein who killed 29 Muslims and wounded 125 praying at the Ibrahimi Mosque (Tomb of the Patriarchs), the Israeli state responded by restricting Palestinian movement along the street, on the pretext of security concerns for Israeli settlers. Goldstein was later revered with a memorial in the settlement town of Kiryat Arba, next to Hebron’s Old City.

Later in October 2000 following the second intifada, Palestinians were completely barred of access to the road, including adjunct laneways and street. This had the effect of forcing 304 shops and warehouses to close down. A B’Tselem investigation revealed that properties adjacent or on Shuhada street had largely been abandoned or closed under Israeli Defence Force military order. In 2012, not one Palestinian store remains open – the abandoned shops are clothed in steel shutters marked with the Star of David. The crippling economic effect of this apartheid policy has left many Palestinians with no choice but to leave. Today, vehicular and pedestrian access continues to be obstructed by IDF and settler presence.

Recently, the US government injected millions of dollars into giving the street a makeover. Australian financial aid too has come in the form of the Gutnick Centre on the street, courtesy of former Melbourne Football Club president and mining entrepreneur Joseph Gutnick. It is an event and shopping centre that permits access only to Israeli citizens, a monstrosity overlooking Palestinian homes and heavily guarded by the Israeli military. It is one of the few business’ that continues to thrive. Gutnick himself has a history of contributing to Palestinian oppression: he is said to have donated millions to illegal settlements in Hebron, as well as bankrolling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party in the early 1990s who continues the occupation of Palestinian land.

It is for these reasons that we should not only continue to express solidarity with the actions of the Palestinians living under apartheid, but stand up to the institutions and people like Gutnick here in Australia whom proudly pronounce their support for Israel and by extension the dispossession and oppression of Palestine.




Solidarity with the Youth Against the Settlements

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