Israeli soldiers critically wound Palestinian child in Qaddum protests

Israeli soldiers fire live ammunition at anti-occupation protesters in Kufr Qaddum, critically wounding a 10-year-old child.

By +972 Magazine Staff

Israeli soldiers take position during protests in the village of Kfar Qaddum, near the West Bank city of Nablus on February 1, 2019. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers take position during protests in the village of Kfar Qaddum, near the West Bank city of Nablus on February 1, 2019. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

A 10-year-old Palestinian child is in critical condition after Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition at an anti-occupation protest in Kufr Qaddum on Friday. Abdul Rahman Yaser Shtewi was shot in the head with a live bullet and is undergoing surgery at Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, according to a Facebook statement by the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Dozens of protesters — mainly residents of the village joined by some international and Israeli activists — were demonstrating against the Israeli army’s closure of their main access road to Nablus, the nearest West Bank city.

“In eight years [of protests], the army has never responded in such a crazy way as it did today,” said Murad Shtewi, one of the coordinators of the popular protests in the village and a relative of the wounded child.

“The army has used violence in the past, even fired live bullets before, but today, they fired directly [at protesters] in an attempt to suppress our demonstrations,” he added.

Shtewi explained that, once the soldiers began firing live ammunition, the organizers pulled all the protesters back into the village. The soldiers kept on firing, though. He believes the child, who Shtewi said was merely an onlooker and was not involved in the demonstration, was wounded as protesters were retreating.

“The occupation must answer to the crimes it committed today,” said Shtewi. “I urge all human rights organizations, all children’s rights organizations, UNICEF, to get involved immediately and investigate this incident.”

Kufr Qaddum lies on the main road between the northern West Bank cities of Qalqilya and Nablus. The village itself is situated in Area B, an Oslo Accords designation that puts the Palestinian Authority in charge of civil and administrative matters there. Most of the village’s lands, however, are located in Area C, which is under complete Israeli military control.

For the past eight years, the Palestinian residents of Qaddum have been staging weekly popular protests against the Israeli army’s closure of their main access road. 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.

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.

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.

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.

Asked about today’s incident in Qaddum, an army spokesperson said: “Earlier today a disturbance developed involving about 60 Palestinians in the village of Qaddum. Palestinians set tires on fire and hurled stones at soldiers there. IDF soldiers responded with means to disperse demonstrations. We are aware of the claim of a wounded Palestinian.”