RAMALLAH (Ma'an) – More than 30 Palestinians, mostly women, were injured as Israeli troops forcibly dispersed a peaceful march marking International Women's Day at Qalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah on Friday.
Israeli soldiers fired tear-gas canisters, stun grenades, rubber-coated bullets, and pepper spray at hundreds of women to prevent them from reaching the checkpoint. Fourteen of the 30 injured were evacuated to hospitals.
The rally began at Qalandiya refugee camp and marched toward the nearby checkpoint. Witnesses say more than 1,000 women joined the rally along with Palestinian political leaders.
When the rally neared the checkpoint, Israeli soldiers barricaded themselves behind the steel gates and attacked female participants in the face with pepper spray as they approached.
As defiant women refused to move back, Israeli soldiers showered them with tear gas and stun grenades, forcing them to move.
A Ma'an reporter present at the event explained that altercations broke between Israeli soldiers and journalists after the soldiers "deliberately" fired tear gas at the journalists.
A heavy traffic jam then ensued on the main road in both directions causing bottleneck backups near near Qalandiya checkpoint, where vehicles travel between Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Hebron.
Palestinian lawmaker representing the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Khalida Jarrar said the rally was a message from Palestinian women confirming that they would continue to struggle against Israeli occupation until Palestinians achieve freedom and independence.
Palestinian women "have always been a major component of the struggle against Israeli occupation and won’t give up this national duty," she added.
Similarly, secretary-general of the Palestinian Democratic Union Zahira Kamal said Palestinian women hope to send the message that they reject and would continue to resist Israeli occupation, emphasizing that Palestinian women "urge the Palestinian leadership not to resume negotiations with Israel."
Palestinian law should be in agreement with international women rights conventions, particularly the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Palestine became a signatory to CEDAW on April 2, 2014 as the PLO continued efforts to join several international conventions and treaties.
President Mahmoud Abbas signed letters to join nearly 20 international treaties in December 2014 -- including the Rome Statute that guarantees accession to the International Criminal Court -- after the UN Security Council rejected a resolution supporting an end to the Israeli occupation.