QALQILIYA (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces violently dispersed a weekly march in the village of Kafr Qaddum in the occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya on Friday, as tens of protesters suffered from tear gas inhalation.
Popular resistance coordinator Murad Shteiwi told Ma’an that the march had set off after Friday’s dhuhr (afternoon) prayers with local Palestinians, Israelis and foreign peace activists all participating in the demonstration.
However, Israeli border guards quickly attacked the protesters and fired tear gas canisters, sound bombs, and rubber-coated steel bullets into the crowd, causing tens of protesters to suffer from suffocation. The injured were treated on the scene by Palestinian medical crews.
Shteiwi added that Israeli forces had stationed themselves on the roof of a partially-constructed house owned by Hakam Abu Khalid. Israeli forces then fired tear gas and sound bombs into the crowd of protesters from the rooftop, while an Israeli military bulldozer closed the streets surrounding the town with large mounds of dirt.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an she would look into reports on the incident.
Residents of Kafr Qaddum began staging weekly protests in 2011 against land confiscations, as well as the closure of the village's southern road by Israeli forces. The road, which has been closed 13 years, is the main route to the nearby city of Nablus, the nearest economic center.
Following similar clashes that broke earlier in the year, Shteiwi told Ma'an that more than 330 protests have been held over that period, during which time 84 protesters have been injured by live fire, including 12 children.
Some 120 others have been detained at protests and were subsequently held in Israeli custody for periods ranging between four and 24 months, Shteiwi said, adding that they have paid fines totaling some 25,000 shekels (approximately $6,488).
Over the course of five years, an elderly protester was killed after suffering from excessive tear gas inhalation, one youth lost his eyesight, and another his ability to speak, he added.