Friday, May 29, 2020

The bucolic village remains steadfast despite IOF violence

By George Mandarin - February 13, 2012
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [IDF] [Khader Adnan] [Kafr Qaddoum] [protests]

Photos by Dylan Collins

KAFR QADDOUM-Popular resistance demonstrations raged throughout the West Bank on Friday in protest of Israel’s Occupation, its systematic land annexations, and more recently, its use of administrative detention in solidarity with Khader Adnan. The villages of Bil’in, Nil’in, Nabi Saleh, Kafr Adik, and Qaryout all participated in the weekly protests, also among them was Kafr Qaddoum.

Located just west of Nablus, the small bucolic village of Kafr Qaddoum began its weekly peaceful demonstrations against Israel’s occupation in July 2011. A relative newcomer to the West Bank’s popular resistance movement, on Friday 10 February, Kafr Qaddoum’s residents held nothing back as they chanted and sang for over two hours amongst a heavy barrage of tear gas canisters.

Despite the peaceful nature of the demonstration, the Israeli Occupation Force (IOF) fired over 300 canisters of tear gas into the village, many of which fell into residents’ homes. As is routine, canisters were often fired directly at the unarmed demonstrators. In a tremendous display of unity, each wave of tear gas was met with progressively louder chants, as the village’s men, women, children and a handful of international activists rallied together, looked out for each other, and held their ground.

Despite the peaceful nature of the demonstration, the Israeli Occupation Force (IOF) fired over 300 canisters of tear gas into the village

The central motive behind Kafr Qaddoum’s popular resistance lies behind the neighboring Israeli-colonial settlement of Qedumim. Not only has the settlement, with Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) support, annexed over 11,800 dunums of Kafr Qaddoum’s agricultural land, it is also responsible for the closure of the villages main access road to neighboring Palestinian city of Nablus.

The access road was closed during the second intifada as a part of Israel’s wider set of closures and checkpoints within the Nablus district. In response to a 2005 lawsuit filed by Kafr Qaddoum against the ICA’s closure of the village’s main road, an Israeli civil court ruled the road would be opened once the closure of Nablus came to an end. IOF checkpoints blockading Nablus were removed in 2009; however, the road to Kafr Qaddoum remains blocked.

The Cost of Occupation in Kafr Qaddoum

Before the second intifada, and the ICA’s closure of its road, villagers in Kafr Qaddoum could reach Nablus for only three shekels (less than one dollar). These days, a one-way trip to Nablus costs upwards of 20 shekels (approximately USD $5.5), as villagers are forced to utilize a circuitous series of small roads orbiting the settlement of Qudemim. For a village in which over 40% of the population is below the poverty line, a round-trip fare to Nablus is a luxury that can now only occasionally be afforded. For Kafr Qaddoum’s students interested in attending one of the several universities located within Nablus, the inescapable travel fees attached to the daily commute decidedly raises the cost of education, routinely placing a university education out of reach.

Eighty percent of Kafr Qaddoum’s residents are dependent on the village’s olive groves for economic subsistence. However, approximately sixty percent of the village’s agricultural land has been annexed for the settlement of Qedumim. According to Ammourad Shtaini, spokesperson for Kafr Qaddoum’s popular resistance, the ICA only allots the village two weeks per year to tend the remaining forty percent of its land, one week in the fall and one week in the spring.

Shtaini argues the olive harvest alone takes much more than one month to complete, never mind the daily maintenance the groves require throughout the year. Such heavy restrictions result in measly harvests, as Kafr Qaddoum’s farmers are often forced to leave over half of their annual yield on the trees, and significantly furthers the village’s economic hardships.

Ammourad Shtaini insists that residents of Kafr Qaddoum are united in their determination to continue weekly demonstrations until their demands are met. Their demands are as follows: 1. Stop the expansion of Qedumim (that is, if it cannot be removed all together) 2. Open the village’s main road to Nablus 3. Allow farmers open and safe access to Kafr Qaddoum’s remaining lands. “We don’t demonstrate for demonstrations sake,” says Shtaini, “we just want what is rightfully ours.”

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