In the village of Kafr Qaddoum, near Qalqilia in the northern part of the West Bank on Friday, Israeli forces assaulted a non-violent demonstration against the Wall and settlements with both so-called ‘non-lethal weapons’ and live ammunition, shooting one journalist in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet.
The reporter, Ahmad Shawer, a reporter with the Palestine News Agency, was taken to the Darwish Nazzi hospital in Qalqilia for treatment after Israeli forces fired directly at his head, causing a serious head injury. Shawer was wearing a bright media vest with the word ‘PRESS’ written in large letters across the front and back.
According to eyewitnesses from the International Solidarity Movement, “A group of masked Israeli soldiers also took his telephone, and deleted all of his pictures and videos from the demonstration. The journalist is alive, but will be hospitalized overnight. Later a large number of masked Israeli Forces raided the village, trying to arrest Palestinians, and entering the house of a Palestinian family, scaring the crying children.”
The town has been holding non-violent protests against the illegal Israeli confiscation of their land every Friday for the past six years, but the level of violence by Israeli soldiers against Palestinian non-violent demonstrators this Friday was ‘unprecedented’, according to local organizer Murad Shteiwi.
Shteiwi told the local news reporters with the Ma’an News Agency that the Israeli soldiers entered the village and attempted to ransack Palestinian homes and detain civilian protesters. They were thwarted in this invasion by a number of local youth, who threw stones at the invading army and got them to retreat.
International activists with the International Solidarity Movement reported that a local organizer of the protest described the situation as the feeling of “… a real war, with constant bullets being fired from 1 PM to 3 PM. Children crying and screaming. The situation was so terrifying.”
The organization also reported, “Prior to the protest, Israeli Forces had also set up a roadblock at the entrance to the village, pulling cars over and checking people’s IDs, as an act of collective punishment.”
For five years the people of Kafr Qaddum have been holding weekly demonstrations, protesting the closure of their main road to Nablus and the expansion of the illegal Israeli settlement of Kedumim, which surrounds the village. In 2003, the road was sealed permanently by an Israeli roadblock, extending the fifteen minute commute to Nablus to about forty minutes. The roadblock has had severe economic consequences for the people of Kafr Qaddum, as many who once worked in nearby Nablus have had to seek alternatives. The United Nations estimates that movement restrictions imposed by the Israeli Occupation, such as the situation in Kafr Qaddum, cost Palestine about 185 million USD each year.”