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Israeli forces disperse weekly Kafr Qaddum protest, Palestinians suffer tear gas inhalation

Sept. 9, 2016 8:59 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 10, 2016 4:03 P.M.)
QALQILIYA (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces Friday dispersed a weekly protest in the village of Kafr Qaddum in the occupied West Bank district of Qalqilya, as several Palestinians reported suffering from tear gas inhalation.

Murad Shtewei, the popular resistance coordinator in the village, told Ma’an that a large number of Israeli forces raided the village with bulldozers and other military vehicles, and fired tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets soon after the protests began.

Several Palestinians suffered from tear gas inhalation and were treated on the scene, Shtewei added.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an she would look into reports.

The protest this week was held in solidarity with three Palestinian hunger strikers held in Israeli prison whose health conditions have been rapidly worsening.

While Israeli authorities temporarily suspended all three of the strikers’ administrative detentions -- internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence, the prisoners have vowed to continue with their hunger strikers until they are completely released from detention.

Brothers Mahmoud and Muhammad Balboul began their hunger strikes on July 4 and 7 respectively. The brothers were detained on June 9 and sentenced to administrative detention shortly before their younger sister Nuran, 16, was released after spending four months in Israeli prison.

The hunger strikers have experienced deteriorating health, as both brothers were rushed to the intensive care unit of two Israeli hospitals within a few days of each other as their health conditions took a turn for the worst, with Muhammad experiencing temporary blindness.

Meanwhile, 25-year-old Malik Salah Daoud al-Qadi has been on a hunger strike since July 11, after being detained on May 23. Al-Qadi had previously spent four months in Israeli custody after being detained in December 2015.

Al-Qadi is a journalism and media student at the al-Quds University in Abu Dis.

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 out last month, Shtewei 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, 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.
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