Every conflict has its symbols…
When you speak of the Israel-Palestine conflict, images come to mind; the Wall, al-Aqsa, a map. In this photo, we were walking along Shuhada Street, a road which Palestinians are denied access to. Shuhada Street weaves through the centre of Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank. It used to be a bustling market street; now it’s a ghost town, a place of spectacle where internationals come and marvel at a conflict so current and yet so often overlooked. For me, Shuhada Street has become a symbol of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
While I stood on that street with its boxed-up windows and empty homes, I looked around me at a city divided by tension and grief. My overwhelming feeling was one of shame; shame as an international citizen, for our collective silence. What gave me the right to stand in this place, where residents of Hebron are barred from going? It was my passport. Passports are meant to enable movement, not restrict it, yet here I was, protected by my nationality.
Hebron was the city in which I lived and worked for 4 weeks. It was also the place in which I spoke with refugees, learnt from children, and felt with the people of the city. I heard their stories, and they are not voiceless. They are silenced. This is a city filled with noise and life, and it’s asking for someone to listen.
The question which I came to the city of Hebron with was answered: when do bystanders become responsible? Now.