This was the first Friday of Ramadan, when the Palestinian mayor of Hebron announced that 70 of the 300-odd shops on al-Sahla Street could reopen. But the Israeli military insisted that it had agreed to only seven, citing security concerns in a place where clashes with settlers are common. So al-Sahla, once a thriving marketplace off the storied Shuhada Street, remained a ghost town, as the Israeli human rights group B’tselem termed it in 2007.
“The declared commitment to free movement and unity of the city was rendered meaningless,” the group’s 2007 report says, citing a new curfew and street closings that led Palestinians to abandon more than 1,000 apartments above the shuttered storefronts. “What was once the vibrant heart of Hebron has become a ghost town.”