Israeli forces suppress weekly marches in Bilin, Kafr Qaddum


RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli forces Friday suppressed weekly marches in the villages of Bilin in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, and Kafr Qaddum in Qalqilya, as local leaders vowed to continue the weekly marches until Israeli authorities heed their demands.Bilin locals and a group of international and Israeli solidarity activists marched from the village’s mosque towards the Israeli separation wall, and raised photos of detained activist Salah al-Khawaja, who wasdetained last month during an Israeli military raid in Ramallah city.Al-Khawaja is a leader of the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI), a Palestinian political party aiming to provide an alternative to Fatah and Hamas, as well as an activist for the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements.Protestors demanded al-Khawaja’s release during the demonstration, emphasizing that the activist has been held in solitary confinement by Israeli authorities for nearly two months since he was first detained.Protesters also shouted political chants related to recent attempts by right-wing Israelis in occupied East Jerusalem to ban the adhan — call to prayer — at mosques in the Palestinian territory.Israeli forces also detained a Palestinian photojournalist during the march for several hours before releasing him.The coordinator of the Bilin popular committee Abdullah Abu Rahmeh called for more actions and protests to support the Palestinians in East Jerusalem.Bilin is one of the most active Palestinian villages in peaceful organized opposition against Israeli policies, as residents have protested every Friday for 11 consecutive years, and have often been met with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and stun grenades from Israeli forces.Meanwhile, several Palestinians suffered tear gas inhalation as Israeli forces suppressed a weekly march in Kafr Qaddum in the northern West Bank.Murad Shtewei, the popular resistance coordinator in the village, told Ma’an that the march was launched immediately following Friday prayers and proceeded to the southern entrance of the town that has been closed by Israeli forces for more than 13 years. The road is the main route to the nearby city of Nablus, the nearest economic center.Israeli forces responded by firing dozens of tear gas bombs into the crowd.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an she would look into reports on the two incidents, and reasons behind the temporary holding of a Palestinian photojournalist in Bilin.Shtewi said that the continuous suppression of organizing activities by Israeli forces in the village would not stop Palestinians in Kafr Qaddum from continuing with their peaceful protests every Friday until the town’s southern entrance is reopened.

Following similar clashes that broke earlier in the year, Shtewei told Ma’an that more than 330 protests have been held over that period, during which time 84 protesters have been injured by live fire, including 12 children.Some 120 others have been detained at protests and were subsequently held in Israeli custody for periods ranging between four and 24 months, Shtewei said, adding that they have paid fines totaling some 25,000 shekels (approximately $6,488).Over the course of five years, an elderly protester was killed after suffering from excessive tear gas inhalation, one youth lost his eyesight, and another his ability to speak, he added.
(Source / 18.11.2016)

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