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3 injured with rubber bullets, dozens suffer tear gas inhalation during Kafr Qaddum, Bilin protests

Aug. 19, 2016 9:21 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 21, 2016 5:28 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces Friday dispersed weekly protests in the village of Kafr Qaddum in the occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya, and a solidarity protest for Palestinian hunger strikers in the village of Bilin in the district of Ramallah.

Popular resistance coordinator in Kafr Qaddum Murad Shtewei told Ma'an that three Palestinians were injured and dozens suffered tear gas inhalation after Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas at the demonstrators. The injured Palestinians were treated on the scene.

Shtewei added that Israeli forces had deliberately targeted the main water grid in the village for the seventh consecutive time, causing the water supply to be disconnected for three hours as the local council faced difficulties fixing the issue in the presence of Israeli soldiers.

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.

Shtewei said 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, Shtewei 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.

Meanwhile, in the village of Bilin in Ramallah, Israeli forces also suppressed a weekly protest held in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners.

Participants raised posters of hunger strikers, Palestinian flags, and signs condemning Israeli human rights violations as they marched in the streets of the village singing Palestinian national songs.

The villagers of Bilin, one of the most active villages in peaceful organized opposition against Israeli policies, have protested every Friday for 11 consecutive years, and are often met with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and stun grenades from Israeli forces.

Local sources did not express in detail how Israeli forces reportedly “suppressed” the marches. An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports on the incidents.

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