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2 Palestinian youths detained in Kafr Qaddum en route to pick olives

Oct. 25, 2016 8:25 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 26, 2016 10:27 P.M.)
QALQILIYA (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces Tuesday detained two Palestinians, ages 17 and 20, as the youths were en route to pick olives near a gate east of the village of Kafr Qaddum in the occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya.

Murad Shtewei, coordinator of a local popular resistance committee, told Ma’an that the two youths, identified as Rafe Muhammad Hussein, 17, and Muhammad Nidal, 20, were stopped by Israeli forces on their way to go olive picking and were held for several hours before being transferred to an unknown location.

According to Shtewei, Saturday marked the first day since the start of the olive-picking season in the occupied territory that Israeli forces were permitting Palestinians from the village to harvest their olive trees near the illegal Israeli settlement of Qadumim.

The Kafr Qaddum village has remained a site of frequent clashes with Israeli soldiers, as village members have staged weekly demonstrations since 2011 to protest Israeli land confiscations for illegal settlements, 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.

According to the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ), since 2013 Kafr Qaddum has lost at least 10.8 percent of its total area for the establishment of Israeli settlements -- considered illegal under international law.

Since the village is split between Area B -- areas in the West Bank under Palestinian Authority civil control and Israeli military control -- and Area C -- more than 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli control, the village has seen much of their land under threat of confiscation by Israeli forces in order to expand illegal Israeli settlements throughout Area C of the West Bank.

Kafr Qaddum is also under threat by Israel’s separation wall, which could further isolate village residents from their lands as its construction continues across the occupied Palestinian territory.

Meanwhile, Israeli bypass roads -- roads linking illegal Israeli settlements to Israel -- have also negatively impacted the village, with Bypass Road 55 cutting through the south and Road 60 in the east of the village, essentially dissecting the village’s access and connection to other Palestinian communities.

Frequent clashes in the village between Palestinians and Israeli forces have also led to the routine detention of Palestinian youth by Israeli forces. Shtewei told Ma'an earlier in the year 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).

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