8 April 2012 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank
On Friday the 6th of April, in celebration of the Day of the Child, the weekly demonstration was held in the village Kufr Qaddoum outside of Nablus. This demonstration was particularly charged as the previous night the IOF (Israeli Occupying Forces) had violently raided houses in the village and arrested 20 men, leaving dozens of children fatherless. So this Friday the children of the village lead the demonstration, sending out a message that the resistance will live on as long as the Israelis keeps on stealing land and oppressing the Palestinian people.
Villagers gathered outside the meeting house on Friday morning accompanied by the International Solidarity Movement, where a children’s party had been arranged to mark the occasion. Twenty five children enjoyed face painting, horns and balloons in the sunshine and prepared to open the demonstration, demanding the return of their fathers and brothers.
Signs reading “You took our fathers so today we lead the demonstration” and “Return our fathers” were held by the group of children following the Muslim noon prayers with adults close behind. The protest followed the familiar route towards the road block Israel said it would remove almost a year ago. As they approached the road block they were met by the usual sight of soldiers, jeeps, a tractor and the “skunk water” truck, and this day the IOF had also invaded one of the houses on the outer part of the village where they stationed approximately 5 soldiers on the roof.
After a time of chanting, the children returned back to the village and the adults took over. The demonstration soon turned violent as the soldiers sprayed the crowd with the foul smelling “skunk water” and shot tear gas at Palestinian youth who threw stones as a symbolic resistance to the oppressive occupation.
The demonstration became calm after approximately one and a half hours and the soldiers withdrew, followed by the crowd of demonstrators. Together, villagers and internationals walked close to the nearby illegal Zionist settlement, singing and chanting reminding the watching settlers of the great injustice they have cast upon the village of Kufr Qaddoum.
Jennifer is a volunteer with International Solidarity Movement (name has been changed).