HEBRON — Catching up with friends, showing off new clothes and getting new books — for most kids, the first day of school is exciting. But for Palestinian children who live in or go to school in the Old City of Hebron, the day is nothing to look forward to. Here, crossing checkpoints manned by heavily armed Israeli soldiers and dodging barbs and attacks from Israeli settlers are unfortunate parts of an ordinary school day.
On Sunday morning (Sept. 2) little girls sporting new dresses, shiny shoes and braided hair, boys in blue shirts, and teenage girls in blue and white school uniforms flocked to the otherwise usually quiet and empty Shuhada street in H2. Israel’s military closed all the shops and sealed off the Old City’s main artery to Palestinian traffic after the 2000 Intifada to avoid recurring clashes between Palestinians and Jewish settlers — between 600 and 800 live in the midst of 35,000 Palestinians. Only settler vehicles can use that street.