Caabu delegation visits West Bank village during Friday protest

In June 2012 a Caabu parliamentary delegation returned to the UK after four days spent in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, during which they visited the village of Kufr Qaddoum in the midst of the community’s weekly protest.

When the delegation arrived, Israeli army soldiers were still firing tear gas canisters at the protesters and the village reeked of ‘skunk spray’ – a foul-smelling liquid that is squirted by the army at people and property in order to disperse demonstrations (and later to identify demonstrators).  The protesters were mainly young men from the village, some of whom had been throwing stones at the soldiers.

Mark Hendrick MP said, “It is pretty awful the way they are being treated… I have been to demonstrations in Britain but to have CS gas fired is a very different experience.”

Kufr Qaddoum is a small village in the Qalqilya governorate of the West Bank – an area that has been particularly badly affected by the Wall.  The demonstrations in the village take place every week in protest at the nearby Israeli settlement and the closure of the village’s main route to Nablus.  The road closure means villagers have to take a circuitous route to their nearest major town and is having a suffocating effect on the village’s social and economic life.

Analysis by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) shows that almost 40% of the West Bank is now taken up by Israeli infrastructure, whether by the illegal settlements, the road system that connects them, or the Wall – whose route runs on the Palestinian side of the Green Line for 85% of its length – and its associated regime.

The visit to Kufr Qaddoum came on the first day of a four day visit to the West Bank and Israel.  The delegation also visited the military court at Ofer to see the trial of child detainees, as well as Hebron, Shu’fat refugee camp and the Bedouin communities living in the Jerusalem periphery.  The delegation also held meetings with former Palestinian foreign minister, Nabil Shaath, and Israeli Prime Minister’s official spokesman, Mark Regev.

The delegation included David TC Davies MP, Mark Hendrick MP, Linda Riordan MP and Colonel Bob Stewart DSO MP.