On Friday, February 22, Palestinians organized a mass protest to remember the 25th anniversary of the Massacre of the Ibrahimi Mosque and to protest the ongoing segregation, repression and dispossession of the Palestinian population in Hebron at the hands of the Israeli military and the illegal settlers in the city.
Hundreds of residents and citizens marched throughout the old city and through 'Shuhada' Street – the street where Palestinians and Jewish illegal settlers are physically segregated. All Palestinian political parties and Palestinian popular struggle movements united organized the protests and representatives of many different movements addressed the crowd.
Salah Khawaja, on behalf of the Stop the Wall Campaign, reminded the crowd about the effectiveness of the popular struggle as a tool to challenge Israeli occupation and apartheid:
"The attack on the Palestinian people in Hebron has not stopped a single day since the massacre in 1994. Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing in the city have lead to the closing of 1200 shops in the Old City, harrassment, movement restrictions and all forms of segregation and collective punishment are ongoing.
"Our main strategy and most effective tool to challenge and stop Israeli apartheid today is the power of our popular struggle. This struggle is not only symbolic. It effectively allows us to claim our rights back. This Friday, people in Jerusalem united and successfully tore down the seal that the Israeli occupation had put in place in 2003 to bar Palestinians from accessing the Gate of Mercy (Bab al Rahmah) in the Al Aqsa Mosque. Minutes after, the area was full with worshippers praying for the first time in 15 years at this holy spot. In Bil'in continued popular protests against the apartheid Wall have been able to bring back 1100 dunum of land to the rightful Palestinian owners, in Ni'lin Israel had to reduce the illegal confiscations by 2400 dunum, in Jayyous by 1000 dunum. During 2018, four illegal settlement outposts have been stopped because we stood up, united and organized protests until Israel had to dismantle what had already been built.
"This is a powerful model of popular resistance. It has forced the Israeli occupation to retreat over and over again. As Stop the Wall we are committed to put all our energy and resources into a collective effort to unitedly strengthen and further develop this model of popular struggle."
On February 25 1994, a US born Israeli settler, Baruch Goldstein, entered the Ibrahimi Mosque at the center of Hebron and opened fire on the people gathered in prayer. He killed approximately 29 Palestinian worshipers and wounded dozens. Israel used this crime as a pretext to divide the Ibrahimi Mosque into two sections, one for Muslims and one for Jewish worshippers, and to close ever more roads in the old city of Hebron to Palestinians, transforming them into Jewish-only apartheid roads.