Some two hundred and fifty residents of Kufr Qaddoum, joined by a handful of Israeli and international activists, protested in the village on Friday against the enclosure of the village and an ongoing land grab policy. The protest was launched in a cheerful march from the center of the village towards the main road, which was blocked by the army a few months ago. As protesters came close to the barrier, Israeli forces began shooting large quantities of tear-gas canisters, as well as rubber-coated bullets.
After about half an hour of protest and without any warning, an army bulldozer cleared the road and made way for military jeeps and dozens of soldiers who began storming into the village. The army instantly arrested six Palestinians – among them four journalists – three Israelis and four international activists. Some of the arrestees were severely beaten. One journalist’s leg and another’s arm were broken during their violent arrests. The Israelis, internationals and journalists were released after short investigations. However, two local youth currently remain in custody. Both were taken to the Hawara detention center where they can be kept for eight days before being brought before a judge.
(Video depicts violent arrests of several journalists)
Kufr Qaddoum, a small town of 3,500 inhabitants, is situated in the northern West Bank, between Nablus and Qalqilya. Qaddum’s total land area used to consist of nearly 19,000 dunams, of which 11,000 are now under total Israeli control. Village lands have been repeatedly confiscated to build and expand the settlement of Kedumim. The expansion of one the settlement’s neighborhoods, Mitzpe Yishai, became relatively well-known when even the Israeli Civil Administration described land takeover as theft. Lands that were officially recognized as belonging to private owners in Qaddoum were taken over in an orderly manner, without any official authorization. Furthermore, the village has been effectively besieged since the beginning of the second intifada, when the main and only entrance to the village was blocked by the army.