BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Friday marches were held in the village of Kafr Qaddum in the occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya, where two Palestinians, including a Palestinian journalist, were injured by Israeli forces, and in the Ramallah-area villages of Nilin and Nabi Saleh.
In the village of Kafr Qaddum in Qalqiliya, Ahmad Shawer, a reporter for Palestine TV, was injured in the head, while another Palestinian was injured in the foot by rubber-coated bullets after Israeli forces suppressed the village’s weekly march against the Israeli occupation and settlements.
Coordinator of public resistance Murad Shteiwi told Ma’an that Israeli forces chased protesters during the march while shooting live and rubber bullets. Shteiwi added that Shawer and another protester were taken to the Darwish Nazzal hospital for treatment after being injured by Israeli forces.
Shteiwi said that “very violent clashes” erupted between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces that had raided the village, searched Palestinian homes, and attempted to ambush Palestinians in order to detain them, but failed.
He called the incident “unprecedented” in the village.
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 for 14 years, is the main route to the nearby city of Nablus, the nearest economic center.
The Israeli army blocked off the road after expanding the illegal Israeli settlement of Kedumim in 2003, forcing village residents to take a bypass road in order to travel to Nablus, which has extended the travel time to Nablus from 15 minutes to 40 minutes, according to Israeli rights group B’Tselem.
Hundreds of Palestinians have been detained during the demonstrations since their start in 2011, and at least 84 protesters have been injured by live fire, including 12 children, Shteiwi told Ma'an during a similar protest last year.
Some 120 others have been detained at demonstrations and were subsequently held in Israeli custody for periods ranging between four and 24 months, Shteiwi said at the time, adding that they had 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.
In December, Israeli forces became the focus of international condemnation when Israeli soldiers wearing matching plain clothes and black ski masks detained a seven-year-old Palestinian during a weekly protest in the village.
A video of the incident
was taken by a volunteer of B’Tselem and quickly went viral. Rights groups and activists pointed out that the video seemed to show the soldiers using the child as a human shield during clashes.
B’Tselem strongly condemned the incident at the time, saying that “it does not take a lawyer to know that the detention of a seven-year-old child by soldiers, keeping him by their side as they shoot at his friends, is deplorable and utterly unacceptable."
Meanwhile, in the village of Nilin, Palestinian protesters and foreign activists also launched their weekly march against the wall, Israeli settlement expansions, and in solidarity with Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
Member of the popular committee against the Israeli wall and settlements in Nilin Muhammad Amira said that the march was launched following Dhuhr (afternoon) prayers.
He said that protesters were able to reach the Israeli separation wall in the southern part of Nilin, where demonstrators knocked on the iron gate with rocks to “express their rejection of Israeli settlements and the wall.” Others set rubber tires on fire, he added.
Amira highlighted that the protesters confirmed their solidarity with Palestinian prisoner Thaer Kayid Hamad on the anniversary of a sniper attack on Israeli soldiers and civilians carried out by Hamad in Wadi al-Haramiya near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ofra in 2002. He was sentenced to 11 life sentences by an Israeli court.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an she would look into reports on the marches in Kafr Qaddum and Nilin.
In the village of Nabi Saleh in Ramallah, Israeli forces and settlers allegedly assaulted Palestinians during a peaceful march launched in the village against Israeli occupation.
Israeli forces fired live ammunition, rubber bullets, sound bombs, and tear gas into the crowd of demonstrators, causing many to suffer from tear gas inhalation. Israeli settlers also attacked Palestinian journalists during the march, reportedly under the protection of Israeli soldiers, forcing them to leave the area.
Israeli settlers also threw rocks at Palestinian vehicles and closed the main entrance of the village and prevented anyone from passing. Meanwhile, Israeli forces also closed the gate to the village and prevented Palestinians from passing.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that a “group of Palestinians” had blocked a road leading to the illegal Israeli settlement of Halamish. As a result, she said, clashes broke out with Israeli settlers and Palestinians, with one Israeli settler reported to have been injured.
The spokesperson said that Israeli soldiers and border police had dispersed the clashes by firing tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber-coated bullets at the crowd, while Israeli forces also fired “warning shots into the air.”