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Israeli forces suppress weekly march in Kafr Qaddum, 10 Palestinians suffer tear gas inhalation

March 24, 2017 8:39 P.M. (Updated: March 26, 2017 11:43 P.M.)
QALQILIYA (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces suppressed a weekly march held on Friday in the village of Kafr Qaddum in the northern occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya, causing at least ten Palestinians to suffer from tear gas inhalation.

Coordinator of the popular resistance committee in Kafr Qaddum Murad Shteiwi said that Israeli border police fired tear gas and rubber-coated bullets at protesters, causing ten Palestinians to suffer from tear gas inhalation. Israeli forces also attempted to ambush a number of Palestinians in order to detain them. However, no detentions were reported, Shteiwi said.

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

During the march, protesters also applauded Rima Khalaf, UN Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary, for resigning from her position after being pressured by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to withdraw a report that accused the Israeli government of imposing apartheid policies on the Palestinians.

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."
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