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In Photos: Five years of popular struggle in Palestinian village Kufr Qaddum

After building an Israeli settlement next to the road connecting Kufr Qaddum’s to the West Bank city of Nablus, the Israeli military closed the road to Palestinian traffic. For the past five years, villagers have protested every Friday to demand it be reopened.

Protesters stand behind the barbed wire put across the road by Israeli soldiers during the weekly demonstration in Kafr Qaddum, West Bank, December 30, 2011.

Protesters at the weekly demonstration in Kufr Qaddum, some holding banners of imprisoned Fatah figure Marwan Barghouti, stand behind a barbed wire barrier laid across the village’s access road by Israeli soldiers, Kufr Qaddum, West Bank, December 30, 2011.

Five years ago this week, in July 2011, residents of the West Bank village of Kufr Qaddum began staging weekly popular protests demanding that the Israeli army open a road passing through the village to Nablus. The army closed the road to Palestinian traffic in 2003, citing security concerns to a nearby Israeli settlement partly built on the village’s land.

The army has used various tactics over the years in its attempt to suppress the popular struggle. It has utilized attack dogs, installed roadblocks and other forms of collective punishment, carried out waves of arrests and night raids into the village, shot tear gas and putrid ‘skunk water’ at village homes, hung posters threatening to arrest local children, used crowd-control weapons, and even live ammunition.

At the protest this week, marking five years of popular struggle, the Israeli military wounded three Palestinian demonstrators with live fire. Hundreds of people reportedly took part in the demonstration.

A Palestinian activist streams live video during the weekly demonstration in Kafr Qaddum, West Bank, December 30, 2011.

A local Palestinian activist streams live video of the weekly demonstration in Kufr Qaddum, West Bank, December 30, 2011. Video and photos, largely distributed through social media, have played a significant role in growing awareness support of Palestinian popular protest in the West Bank.

Villagers of held their protests to re-open the village’s main road to Nablus every Friday since July 2011, accompanied by a small number of international activists, and an even smaller number of Israelis.

From day one, the army has responded to the protests with violence. There is no legal avenue for protest available to Palestinians in the West Bank, who live under an Israeli military regime. In response to the army’s presence and violent suppression of the demonstrations, village youths often burn tires, lay large rocks to impede military jeeps, and throw stones toward the soldiers.

Kufr Qaddum lies on the main road between the northern West Bank cities of Qalqilya and Nablus. Although the village itself is situated in Area B, the Oslo Accords designation that means civil planning is supposed to fall under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction, most of the village’s lands are located in Area C, under complete Israeli military planning and security control.

An Israeli activist is arrested by Israeli soldiers during the weekly demonstration against the occupation, Kafr Qaddum, West Bank, October 12, 2012.

An Israeli activist is arrested by Israeli soldiers during the weekly demonstration against the occupation, Kufr Qaddum, West Bank, October 12, 2012. Israeli and international activists have joined Palestinian popular protest in solidarity across the West Bank.

Of the village’s 24,000 dunams (6,000 acres), the Israeli military seized 4,000 dunams (1,000 acres) for use by nearby Israeli settlements. The army requires the Palestinian residents to obtain special military permits in order to accessing another 11,000 dunams (27,000 acres) of their land.

Most of the seized land is now located inside the Israeli settlement of Kedumim, which was established in 1975, partly on Kufr Qaddum’s agricultural land. In 2003, Kedumim further expanded onto Kufr Qaddum land in order to build a new neighborhood.

It was after that new neighborhood of Kedumim was built that the army shut down the road connecting Kufr Qaddum to Nablus, which now runs in between the Israeli settlement and its new neighborhood built in 2003.

As a result, Kufr Qaddum residents are forced to take a more circuitous route in order to drive to Nablus, one of the West Bank’s major cities, adding significant time to the journey.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. As recently as this week, the United States, Russia, European Union and United Nations called on Israel to halt all settlement activity, noting that Israeli settlements in the West Bank “erod[e] the viability of the two-state solution.”

The report, by the Quartet, also noted that West Bank settlements are designated for “exclusive Israeli use,” an indirect way of acknowledging that they are designated for Jews only.

Israeli soldiers arrest a child during the weekly demonstration in Kfer Qaddum, a West bank village located east of Qalqiliya, on January 25, 2013.

Israeli Border  arrest a Palestinian child during the weekly demonstration in Kufr Qaddum, January 25, 2013.

 

A poster picturing four young boys from the village of Kafr Qaddum reads (in Arabic): "We are the army. Be careful, we will arrest you if we see you, or come to your home." The poster was hung by Israeli soldiers on village walls and near one of the boys' homes during an army raid on the night between May 31st and June 1st, 2013.

A poster picturing four boys from the village of Kufr Qaddum reads (in Arabic): “We are the army. Be careful, we will arrest you if we see you, or come to your home.” The poster was hung by Israeli soldiers on village walls and near one of the boys’ homes during a raid on the night between May 31 and June 1, 2013.

 

Palestinians from the West Bank village of Kafr Qaddum join to celebrate two years of the Popular Struggle in their village, July 4, 2013.

Palestinians from the West Bank village of Kufr Qaddum mark two years of popular struggle in their village, July 4, 2013.

 

Relatives of Said Jasir, 85 years old who died from inhalation of tear gas shot by the Israeli army into his home, mourn during his funeral in the West Bank village of Kfar Qaddum, January 2, 2014.

Relatives mourn Said Jasir, 85, who died from complications from inhaling tear gas shot into his home by the Israeli military, at his funeral in the West Bank village of Kfar Qaddum, January 2, 2014. Read more here.

 

Palestnians youth throw stones at Israeli soldiers, during clashes following the funeral march of Said Jasir, 85 years old, in the West Bank village of Kfar Qaddum, January 2, 2014.

Palestinian youth throw stones toward Israeli soldiers during clashes that followed the funeral of Said Jasir, 85, in the West Bank village of Kfar Qaddum, January 2, 2014.

 

Israeli soldiers arrest a 24 years old Palestinian youth during the weekly protest against the occupation in the West Bank village of Kafr Qaddum, January 3, 2014.

Israeli soldiers arrest a 24-year-old Palestinian man during the weekly anti-occupation protest in the West Bank village of Kufr Qaddum, January 3, 2014.

 

Palestinian children sit in front of Said Jaser's house in the West Bank village of Kafr Qaddum, January 4, 2014.

Palestinian children sit in front of Said Jaser’s house in the West Bank village of Kufr Qaddum, January 4, 2014.

 

A man receives medical treatment after inhaling large amounts of tear gas shot at him by Israeli solders during the weekly demonstration in Kafr Qaddum, a West bank village located east of Qalqiliya, January 24, 2014.

A man receives medical treatment after inhaling large amounts of tear gas fired by Israeli solders during the weekly demonstration in Kufr Qaddum, January 24, 2014.

 

A Palestinian boy holds a pictures showing photos of prisoners from the village during the weekly protest in Kafr Qaddum, a West Bank village located east of Qalqiliya, December 19, 2014.

A Palestinian boy holds a pictures Kufr Qaddum residents who were arrested as a result of the weekly protests in Kufr Qaddum, December 19, 2014.

 

Palestinian youth seen during the weekly protest in Kafr Qaddum, a West Bank village located east of Qalqiliya, December 19, 2014.

A masked Palestinian youth participates in the weekly protest in Kufr Qaddum, December 19, 2014.

 

Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian youth during the weekly protest against the occupation, in the West Bank village of  Kafr Qaddum, January 16, 2015.

An Israeli soldier slips in the mud as another soldier arrests a Palestinian youth during Kufr Qaddum’s weekly protest, January 16, 2015.

 

Palestinian youth jumps as a water canon sprays water during clashes with the Israeli army at the weekly protest against the occupation, Kafr Qaddum, West Bank, March 13, 2015.

A Palestinian protester jumps to try and avoid an Israeli army water canon during the weekly protest against the occupation, Kufr Qaddum, West Bank, March 13, 2015.

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