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Head of Kafr Qaddum's protest movement detained by Israeli forces

Dec. 22, 2013 9:44 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 24, 2013 10:29 A.M.)
QALQILIYA (Ma'an) -- The head of the popular committee of a northern West Bank village was detained on Friday by Israeli forces and remains in custody, various organizations said in statements.

Murad Eshtawi, who leads a weekly protest march in the village of Kafr Qaddum against Israeli settlement expansion and the separation wall, was arrested early Friday after Israeli soldiers warned him to stop the protests, the Fatah movement said Friday.

Fatah condemned Eshtawi's arrest, saying that the protests he organized were legal and completely legitimate.

Kafr Qaddum's popular committee released a statement Sunday demanding Eshtawi's release.

Another statement from the French Association of Palestine Solidarity said Saturday that Eshtawi was arrested "with a particular brutality."

Eshtawi's lawyer has not received the details of any charges against him, the statement said, adding that Eshtawi's "arrest is clearly aimed at breaking the village resistance."

Eshtawi told Ma'an early Friday that Israeli soldiers had raided his house during the night and threatened him with detention.

He said the soldiers told him they would detain him in the upcoming days unless he stopped Kafr Qaddum's weekly protests.

Later Friday, an Israeli army spokeswoman said there was "regular security activity" in Kafr Qaddum overnight, without providing further details.

An army spokeswoman did not immediately return calls or emails seeking comment late Sunday.

Eshtawi told Ma'an earlier in December that Israeli forces consistently carry out night raids in Kafr Qaddum in retaliation against the protests, which have been ongoing for two years.

During the protests against the Israeli separation wall and settlement expansion, Israeli forces regularly erect a checkpoint at the entrance of the village in the morning and declare it a closed military zone in order to prevent the weekly march from taking place.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
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