7 January 2012 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank
The residents of Kufr ad-Dik sent a clear and strong message of resistance to the Israeli authorities, just the second of planned weekly demonstrations in the village thus far.
There were approximately 250 residents who attended the demonstration, with a number of Israeli and international activists also present to resist the planned further expansion of several illegal settlements besieging the village. Should construction go ahead, it will reportedly take 80% of the land belonging to Kufr Ad-Dik. To add further insult to the injustice and illegality of this situation, the Israeli authorities have denied Kufr Ad-Dik permission to build any new homes on their own land as the village is in Area C.
The protest began with the gathering of demonstrators in front of the village municipality, before walking in unison towards the Israeli military. They walked up a hill towards the main road separating the village from the illegal settlements and inevitably towards the Israeli military. It appeared that perhaps the occupation forces were caught off guard by the demonstrators, or at least by their courage, and were not immediately prepared to respond in their typically aggressive and sometimes fatal manner.
The partial retreat of the Israeli occupation forces was short lived and was followed by an extended and intense period of tear gas, sound bombs and steel bullets coated in a thin layer of rubber. Even under such an assault the protesters remained steadfast, refusing to be intimidated even when it appeared there was a genuine threat to their lives.
The demonstration also caused some considerable disturbance to traffic travelling along the illegal road, and there are reports that live ammunition was fired by settlers from the main road. As is to be expected there was no evidence that any attempt was made by the Israeli military to intervene in any way. Instead the soldiers continued to fire directly at the protesters.
For the second consecutive week an ISM activist had a tear gas canister fired directly at them while they attempted to record the soldiers with a camera. It is clear the Israeli military is targeting media.
Eventually the demonstrators were forced to retreat. Gradually the group moved to another area of the village where they were again confronted by the Israeli military positioned on the illegal road. On this occasion the Israeli Occupation Forces were prepared and immediately began firing tear gas canisters and rubber coated steel bullets.
The young men of the village refused to be subdued or intimated by such intense aggression and continued to throw stones in a symbolic gesture of resistance. Eventually the older men of the village urged the young men to cease, and that the situation was becoming too dangerous.
The injuries sustained were relatively minor, mostly constituted by partial asphyxiation from tear gas. It seems inevitable that there will be a series of arrests targeting the young men of the village during the next week, yet it is reported that this will not deter the village from continuing their struggle for justice.
Jonathon is a volunteer with International Solidarity Movement (name has been changed).