Middle East

Hit and Run in Hebron

June 21, 2015 – The chilling sound of a child’s terrified scream echoed through the deserted streets of the old city of Hebron, the area of the Palestinian city controlled by Israeli forces, known locally as ‘Ghost Town’. A crowd of people gathered around a young Palestinian boy who sat on the ground crying, his face splattered with blood, his shoes torn from his bruised and bloody feet. Moments earlier the boy was knocked off his feet by an Israeli car while he was playing with friends on Shuhada street. The driver left the scene without stopping.

Palestinian boy hit by an Israeli car in Hebron - June 2015. Claire Thomas Photography

A Palestinian boy cries after being hit by a car with Israeli licence plates on Shuhada Street in the old city of Hebron on June 21, 2015

Palestinian boy hit by an Israeli car in Hebron - June 2015. Claire Thomas Photography

Palestinian boy hit by an Israeli car in Hebron - June 2015. Claire Thomas Photography

Palestinian boy hit by an Israeli car in Hebron - June 2015. Claire Thomas Photography

Palestinian boy hit by an Israeli car in Hebron - June 2015. Claire Thomas Photography

Shuhada Street is controlled by Israeli forces who enforce severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinians accessing the street. The street is located in H2, the part of Hebron controlled by Israeli occupation forces and where Israeli settlements have been established since 1968, resulting in the division of the city and the forced expulsion of many Palestinian families from their homes. What used to be a thriving regional market at the heart of the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank is now a sad sight of empty streets, deserted buildings and hundreds of closed stores, surrounded by Israeli soldiers, watch towers and checkpoints.

The only vehicles now permitted to drive along Shuhada street are those with Israeli license plates; Palestinian vehicles are forbidden to use any part of the street. There are also apartheid-like restrictions on the movement of Palestinians accessing parts of Shuhada street by foot. Palestinians whose homes are located along the street have long been forbidden from accessing the front entrances of their homes, which have been welded shut by Israeli forces. Instead they have to use make-shift back doors, which for many people involves climbing over onto their neighbours’ roof-tops, then down ladders to reach the street below; an extremely challenging task for the elderly and often dangerous when carrying shopping to their homes.