Excessive Use of Force and Collective Punishment at Demonstrations in Remembrance of Palestinian Political Prisoners

17 Apr
5:01 PM

17th April, 2016, International Solidarity Movement

On 15th April, weekly demonstrations against the Israeli occupation were held throughout the occupied West Bank commemorating ā€˜Prisonerā€™s Dayā€™.

Kafr Qaddum villageĀ has been separated from theirĀ main access road to the Palestinian city of Nablus for 13 years. They hold weekly demonstrations against the closure of this road, which was initially closed in order to allow free movement for settlers from the nearby illegal Qedumim settlement. This Friday Israeli forces inundated the demonstrators and part of the village with tear gas, resulting in dozens of people Ā receiving emergency medical treatment for excessive tear gas inhalation. In an all too common act of collective punishment, Israeli forces did not only target the demonstrators with tear gas and rubber coated metal bullets, but also sprayed civilian homes in the village with foul smelling ā€˜skunk waterā€™. Early in the morning, before the start of the demonstration, Israeli forces closed the village entrance, arbitrarily (and illegally) declaring it a ā€˜closed military zoneā€™ in order to prevent international and Israeli activists from participating in theĀ demonstration.

Israeli forces ready to shoot at demonstration in Kafr Qaddum

Israeli forces ready to shoot at demonstration in Kafr Qaddum

In the village of Nabi Saleh, villagers, international solidarity activists and journalists demonstrating the Israeli occupation and theft of land, were attacked not only by the Israeli forces, but additionally by settlers from the illegal settlement of Halamish. Israeli forces inundated the protest with tear gas, causing several cases of excessive tear gas inhalation.

Israeli forces equipped with tear gas grenades and foam bullets in Nabi Saleh

Israeli forces equipped with tear gas grenades and foam bullets in Nabi Saleh

Israeli forces at the Ofer military prison complex fired stun grenades, tear gas, rubber coated metal bullets as well as live fire at unarmed protestors. They arrested four protestors and, in an act of collective punishment, entered the village of Beitunia arbitrarily shooting tear gas into the streets causing civilians to suffer from excessive tear gas inhalation.

Streets filled with tear gas in the village of Beitunia

Streets filled with tear gas in the village of Beitunia

Palestinians and supporters world-wide commemorate Prisoner Day on 17th April each year, in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. There areĀ at least 7000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, 750 of whomĀ are held under ā€˜administrative detentionā€™ without charge or trial. This includes 1400 minors under the age of 18 since October 2015. Under Israeli military law ā€“ which is effect throughout the West Bank ā€“ Palestinian children as young as 12 years old can be arrested by Israeli forces. In many of these cases theĀ children areĀ denied access to family, lawyers and their most basic human rights. They are often interrogated, intimidated and physically and psychologically threatened without a family member or lawyer present. As a result these children can be forced to sign confessions in Hebrew, a language they do not understand.

Most Palestinian prisoners are transferred to prisons within the Israeli territories. This act is illegal under international law that prohibits the transfer of prisoners from the occupied Palestinian territories into an area where they can only receive family visits after applying and receiving permission from the Israeli government. This is a permission, of course, that is very rarely granted.

More at the official website of the International Solidarity Movement

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Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.

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