Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hebron featured on BBC

This picture tells the story of commerce in Hebron--Palestinian shopkeepers' stalls shuttered and welded shut by the Israeli government, stars of David spray-painted on the closed doors, streets empty. In June, we visited a Hebron that had lost all its tourist visitors--the main market, Shuhada Street, closed by Israeli soldiers for the "safety," because Jewish settlers, who move into apartments above the Arab market, regularly attack and harass Palestinians and anyone shopping at their market stalls. One shopkeeper told me his goods have been ruined when the settlers poured bleach out of their windows above his stall.

Yesterday, Tim Franks of the BBC wrote in his Jerusalem Diary about the British government's plan to help tourism in Hebron. They invested $40,000 in the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee to fund horse-and-carriage rides through the Old City. However, the plan has not brought more tourists to Hebron and one carriage driver still waits to begin his business.

Carriage driver Said Ali Ahmed told him, "We got the permits from the Israelis to bring in the horse and the carriage into the Hebron area," he told me. "But we need an additional permit to move around. And I'm still waiting for the Israeli captain to give me it." So for weeks Said has waited, unable to drive his carriage because he cannot get the permit to move about in Hebron. He is confined to the streets open to Palestinians, which do not allow him to take tourists through the Old City. Read his story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7587828.stm#startcontent

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