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Demonstration in Kafr Qaddum

Last Friday (21st of Oct) our team headed to the village of Kafr Qadum to attend a demonstration that takes place weekly since July of this year. We arrived early and were fortunate to learn more about the situation by the organizers themselves. In 2003 the main road east from the village linking it with Nablus was blocked by members of the illegal Israeli settlement of Qadumim (built in 1976) and has not accessable to Palestinian ever since. After unsuccessful attempts during the last six years to gain justice through the Israeli High Court, the popular committee of Kafr Qaddum took the matter in its own hands and started organizing the weekly demonstrations claiming their key road back. Residents now have to drive 26km to get to Nablus instead of 13km. This leads not only to increased expenses but to delayed arrivals at the Nablus hospital. Three children from the village have passed away during the recent years after failing to receive urgent medical care in Nablus on time. Since July until now six young people have been arrested for taking part in the demonstrations.

The demonstration started right after the Muslim’s noon prayer as Palestinians and internationals walked together on the road. It was already blockaded by the Israeli Occupational Forces close to the end of the village. We approached to a distance of about 50m from the soldiers to where barbed wire was strung across the road. Youth began throwing stones and within a couple of minutes tear gas was fired at the demonstrators. The wind, road, and building lay out was such that the tear gas just followed us down the road as we all ran to escape.

After recovering the demonstration participants approached the blockade again and the process repeated itself. This time when the demonstrators began to run MPTers slipped down a side street and were given shelter by some Palestinians. We were able to see and photograph the soldiers as they entered the village on two separate occasions.

We heard sound bombs and tear gas being fired. Other participants reported the use of rubber coated steel bullets. The demonstration ended around 1:00 PM. It was later reported that the soldiers announced that there would be no olive harvesting on Friday and Saturday although the villagers already had permission.

Life returned to normal quickly in Kafr Qaddum. Kids were playing soccer in the street, no one was arrested this time but one young man was hit by a tear gas canister in the leg and the road is still closed.

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