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From the field

Background on the protests in Kafr Qadum

Kafr Qadum is located on the route connecting Nablus and Qalqilya, and lies in the Qalqilya district. The village itself is located in Area B, but much of its agricultural land is in Area C, and some of the nearby Israeli settlements were built on the village's land.

In 2003, the adjacent settlement of Kedumim expanded, adding a northern neighborhood. The road that connects Kafr Qadum to Nablus was trapped between the settlement and this new neighborhood, and the military blocked access to it after the settlement's expansion. Residents of Kafr Qadum now use a bypass road to travel to Nablus, turning the once 15-minute-long trip into a 40-minute drive.

In July 2011, residents of Kafr Qadum began staging weekly protests demanding to regain access to the road. The protests leave from a Mosque in the village and usually include a march toward the roadblock and speeches at that location. Clashes between the army and protestors often follow. Military forces sometimes enter the village even prior to the protest, and when they do, the clashes erupt earlier.

During clashes between protestors and security forces at the weekly protest on March 16, 2012, soldiers set a dog on a group of demonstrators. The dog attacked Ahmad Shteiwi and locked its jaws around his arm for some time. After B'Tselem exposed the incident, the military decided to stop using dogs to disperse demonstrations in the West Bank. On June 1, 2013, as part of its attempts to suppress the Kafr Qadum protests, the army plastered posters with pictures of minors from the village, threatening capture on sight. In response to a communication from B'Tselem, the military said that this had been a local initiative on the part of the soldiers, in an effort to combat stone-throwing. On June 13, 2013, B'Tselem and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel wrote to the Judea and Samaria Division Legal Advisor, demanding he take immediate action to put a stop to this practice, and, where necessary, take measures against the soldiers responsible. The organizations also demanded that all military forces in the West Bank be clearly informed that such “initiatives” are unacceptable, and that the military must operate only within the legal means at its disposal, while upholding the rights of minors in criminal proceedings and respecting freedom of speech and protest.