Kafr Qaddum: “from worse to worse”

By former EA, Jamie.

In 2003, the Israeli military closed the road between the Palestinian village of Kafr Qaddum and the nearest city, Nablus, in the West Bank. This was to allow for the expansion of the illegal Israeli settlement of Qedumim. The driving time for Palestinians was tripled as a result of the two roadblocks that Israel put up, inconveniencing the villagers and increasing the cost of products and services received from Nablus. In addition, the villagers lost access to their farmland near the settlement.

“I want to achieve this small goal.”

UN map of Kafr Qaddum and the surrounding area. The two roadblocks, marked as black and red crosses, block the road to Nablus to the east. The Israeli settlement of Qedumim is shown in brown

The villagers engaged in talks with Israel to reopen the road, but in 2011 it became clear to them that these talks were going nowhere. Since then, the villagers have held weekly demonstrations against the roadblocks.

Murad, one of the organisers of the demonstrations, recalls the disproportionate violence that the Israel has used against them over the years, saying that things have gone “from worse to worse”. The Israeli military uses sound bombs, tear gas and rubber-coated bullets against the demonstrators. In 2014, they killed an elderly man with tear gas.

“from the beginning they shot live rounds”

In addition, “from the beginning they shot live rounds”. In 2016, they shot Murad’s 11-year-old son, Khaled, in the leg with a live bullet, completely fracturing his thighbone. When a family friend tried to carry him to safety, the soldiers shot him too. Khaled’s thighbone is now 3cm shorter, and he still has problems walking as a result of his injury.

Murad and his son Khaled. Photo credit: EAPPI/ EA Hannah

“We still believe in our rights, and this gives us the will to continue”, says Murad, who has been arrested four times since 2011. “We must do everything we can to stop our children having the same life.”

According to the UN, there are around 700 roadblocks, checkpoints and other fixed movement barriers in the West Bank. In addition to this, Israeli forces deploy around 100 ad-hoc ‘flying’ (temporary) checkpoints every week. The impact of the movement restrictions is that “about 88,000 Palestinians living in 23 localities are forced to use detours, which are two to five times longer than the direct route, to reach the closest city or service centre”.

We visited Kafr Qaddum to witness the weekly demonstration and the Israeli response. Israeli soldiers prevented Palestinians from moving through the village, firing tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets at them. Nine people were wounded with rubber-coated bullets, with three people needing to be taken to hospital for treatment. The casualties included one person who was shot with three bullets, and Murad’s eight-year-old son, Moemen, who was shot in the back.

A line of Israeli soldiers preventing Palestinians from moving through the village.
Photo credit: EAPPI/ EA Jamie.
A Norwegian receiving treatment after being shot in the ankle with a rubber-coated bullet. Photo credit: EAPPI/ EA Jamie
An EA at the demonstration. Photo credit: EAPPI/ EA Jamie

UN: “throughout Palestine, concerns have been raised over excessive use of force…”

According to the UN, in 2018 Israeli forces killed 294 Palestinians and injured 32,871 others. The UN says that “throughout Palestine, concerns have been raised over excessive use of force. Although the specific contexts in which civilians are killed or injured varies, there is a pervasive crisis of accountability, with no effective remedy for the vast majority of alleged violations of international law, to ensure justice for the victims and to prevent future violations.” The Israeli Minister of Defense maintains that the Israeli army is “the most moral army in the world”.

Take Action!

With the recent killing of hundreds of unarmed Palestinian protesters at the border of the Gaza Strip, Israel’s excessive use of force is only getting worse. And many of Israel’s weapons are purchased from the UK – £320 million worth from 2014 to 2018. Contact your member of parliament today to raise your concerns about the excessive use of force by the Israeli military, and ask them to take action to end the UK sale of weapons to Israel.