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Back to Kafr Qaddum

This Friday for a second time MPT members went back to the village of Kafr Qaddum to show support for the village’s struggle in reclaiming its key road to Nablus. More than hundred demonstrators had gathered, the vast majority of whom were Palestinians. The local council of the village had prepared big posters with the image of Abu Mazin (Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas) in support of his going to the UN. A smaller poster read “UNESCO said Yes to Palestine” and a third one had the image of the Foreign Israeli Minister Avigdor Lieberman and condemned his opposing the UNESCO vote. Children took a poster in hand and the weekly protest started with them in the lead.

Demonstrators chanted in Arabic “Palestine is free”, “Go ahead Abu Mazin”, “Liberman go away”. There was way more global of a message crystallizing this time. It was not only about the lost road to settlers; a distinct political message concerning the UN vote and UNESCO’s acceptance of Palestine was present as well. This time we walked much further. The razor wire and soldiers were located further from the edge of the village. The army’s chief commander approached the group of protestors with two other soldiers behind him and three others protecting them on the side. They addressed Murad, the spokesman of the demonstrators, by name and then we witnessed a ten minute conversation between the later and the Israeli commander in Arabic.

We found out later that during this conversation the soldiers attempted to set conditions for the protest but the Palestinians refused to comply with them unless they had their road back and the other side followed some rules themselves.
The soldiers retreated and then an international, a Canadian Jew, took the loudspeakers on behalf of the demonstrators. He addressed the soldiers in Yiddish and English questioning their grounds for being armed and shooting tear gas when all the villagers were unarmed and just wanted their road back; why was it that both Palestinians and Israelis couldn’t use it. This was a powerful speech and it was followed by one of a small Palestinian girl in Arabic.

There was five minutes of a pause there during which soldiers were advising one another and two sides faced each other peacefully.

Then we retreated back and the demonstration continued; a couple of stones thrown from the Palestinian side, tear gas shot immediately back from the Israeli one, many canisters at a time and right at the demonstrators. Protesters set a couple of tires on fire that made lots smoke as the wind was blowing towards the soldiers. With each tear-gas shooting the soldiers would advance little by little towards us till they were already inside the village. There were a lot of canisters coming straight at us and fast. We saw two Palestinians getting injured: one of them was hit with a tear-gas canister in the hand and was taken away by the ambulance; another one broke his foot while running away from the tear-gas canisters. We learned after the demonstration’s end that two others needed treatment for gas inhalation. Some of the tear-gas canisters were shot at houses. We saw an entire family going out from one of the houses, children crying.

It was not only houses that were not spared by the tear-gas. A Palestinian boy is trying to kick the tear gas canister away from the donkey

There was a sense of tangible spiritual victory for the Palestinians. After the end of the demonstration which lasted for about an hour, Palestinian men walked around the village together singing with big smiles on their faces.

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