Israeli forces yesterday suppressed weekly marches in the villages of Bilin in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, and Kafr Qaddum in Qalqilya, as local leaders vowed to continue the weekly marches until Israeli authorities heed their demands.
Locals in Bilin and a group of international and Israeli solidarity activists marched from the village’s mosque towards the Israeli separation wall, carrying photos of detained activist Salah Al-Khawaja, who was detained last month during an Israeli military raid in Ramallah city.
Al-Khawaja is a leader of the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI), a Palestinian political party aiming to provide an alternative to Fatah and Hamas, as well as an activist for the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements.
Protestors demanded Aal-Khawaja’s release during the demonstration, emphasising that the activist has been held in solitary confinement by Israeli authorities for nearly two months since he was first detained.
Protesters also shouted political chants related to recent attempts by right-wing Israelis in occupied East Jerusalem to ban the athan – call to prayer – at mosques in the Palestinian territory.
Israeli forces also detained a Palestinian photojournalist during the march for several hours before releasing him.
The coordinator of the Bilin popular committee, Abdullah Abu Rahmeh, called for more actions and protests to support the Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
Bilin is one of the most active Palestinian villages in peaceful organised opposition against Israeli policies, as residents have protested every Friday for 11 consecutive years, and have often been met with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets,and stun grenades from Israeli forces.
Meanwhile, several Palestinians suffered tear gas inhalation as Israeli forces suppressed a weekly march in Kafr Qaddum in the northern West Bank.
Murad Shtewei, the popular resistance coordinator in the village, told Ma’an that the march was launched immediately following Friday prayers and proceeded to the southern entrance of the town that has been closed by Israeli forces for more than 13 years. The road is the main route to the nearby city of Nablus, the nearest economic centre.