Demonstrators stage mock military checkpoint by Sather Gate

Christopher Yee/Senior Staff

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About 15 demonstrators staged a mock military checkpoint by Sather Gate Monday afternoon in protest of Israeli soldiers’ presence on a main West Bank city thoroughfare.

The checkpoint, which was in place around 1 p.m. for about half an hour, was part of a larger series of demonstrations to raise awareness of the lack of Palestinian access to Shuhada Street, a main street in Hebron, a West Bank city under partial Israeli control.

“We were trying to show solidarity with people in Hebron and people all over the world putting on this event,” said UC Berkeley junior Joe Hodali, who participated in the demonstration.

One activist, dressed in an olive-green T-shirt reading “Israeli Defense Forces,” held a cardboard cutout of a rifle. He stood by three other demonstrators who knelt on the ground with black bags on their heads, holding paper signs that read “Criminal — Palestinian not allowed on Shuhada St.” Others stood by holding a banner that read “Open Shuhada St., End Israeli Apartheid!”

While the demonstration was not affiliated with any particular organization, many of the demonstrators are members of groups, including Students for Justice in Palestine, a UC Berkeley group, and Jewish Voice for Peace, a Bay Area organization.

“Activists in Hebron have called on the international community to do solidarity actions,” said Susannah Nachenberg, a UC Santa Cruz graduate and co-organizer of the event.

The street has been closed to Palestinians since the massacre of worshipers at a mosque in the city on Feb. 25, 1994. Monday’s action marked the 19th anniversary of the killings.

The demonstrators abided by proposed changes to the campus’s regulations concerning public expression, making sure not to obstruct traffic through Sather Gate.

The proposed changes, which follow the settlement of a lawsuit over similar demonstrations in March 2010, would require demonstrators to allow free traffic around campus buildings and would prohibit the use of imitation firearms in public campus spaces without prior approval from campus police.

While one activist did carry a cardboard cutout of a rifle, it was apparent that the prop was not a real weapon, according to UCPD spokesperson Lt. Marc DeCoulode.

Hodali filmed the group’s action and plans to edit and then share the footage on YouTube.

“What we did today wasn’t as bad as it is over there,“ Hodali said. “It was a solidarity effort.”


Megan Messerly covers city government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @meganmesserly.