For the past three years, residents of Kufr Qaddoum village, east of Qalqiliya, have been peacefully protesting the continued closure of the village’s eastern gate by the Israeli authorities. The closure of the gate began in 2003 and, as one of the main entrance points to the village, has resulted in longer commuting hours between Kufr Qaddoum and neighbouring cities. The protests also call on Israel to halt the expansion of Kedumim settlement, which was founded on village land.
On 1 January, at approximately 2:30 pm, the weekly protest began in Kufr Qaddoum. In response to the protest, Israeli soldiers located at the eastern gate fired sound and tear gas canisters towards the participants to prevent them from reaching the gate. Some of the soldiers moved further into the village and fired tear gas canisters at the residents’ homes and at youth, who were throwing stones towards the soldiers. In addition, another group of soldiers were located on a mountain to the north and were firing large numbers of tear gas canisters at the village. At approximately 4:30 pm, Sai’d Jaser ‘Ali, 88, began suffocating in his house as a result of inhaling tear gas, which had entered the house through open windows.
‘Aref Sai’d ‘Ali – Kufr Qaddoum – Qalqiliya
On 1 January at 4:30 pm, ‘Aref, 56, received a phone call from his brother, Yaser, 40, telling him that their father, Sa’id, 88, was struggling to breathe after inhaling tear gas while in his home. On his way to his father’s house, ‘Aref himself suffered from inhalation of tear gas. ’Aref recalls that, as is usual during the weekly protests, the Israeli soldiers raided the town and fired tear gas canisters in residential areas, streets and alleys, causing the whole town to become covered with smoke. The smoke close to his father’s house was especially dense. When ‘Aref arrived at the house, he saw his father lying on a mattress on the ground struggling to breathe. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 9300/2014)
Yaser Sa’id ‘Ali – Kufr Qaddoum – Qalqiliya
On 1 January, at 4:30 pm, Yaser, 40, was on his way home in Kufr Qaddoum, when he witnessed clashes between Israeli soldiers and residents of the town. As Yaser approached his house, Israeli soldiers were firing such large amounts of tear gas that he was unable to avoid inhaling it. He went into his father’s house, adjacent to his, and found his father, Sa’id, on a mattress on the ground. Sa’id’s skin was pale and he was complaining of chest pains and an inability to breathe due to the tear gas that had spread throughout the house. Five minutes later, a doctor arrived at the house and provided Sa’id with first aid. He then called an ambulance to transfer him to the Specialized Arab Hospital in Nablus. Shortly afterwards, Sa’id arrived at the hospital in excruciating pain. He underwent several medical checkups and was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit. He was suffering from a shortage of breath due to the gas he had inhaled when he was at home. At approximately 10:30 pm, Sa’id’s condition deteriorated and he began vomiting and tossing in the hospital bed. At 11:10 pm, Sa’id was announced dead. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 9301/2014)
According to the medical report given by the Specialized Arab Hospital in Nablus, Sa’id arrived at the emergency room on 1 January. He had previously suffered from high blood pressure and asthma but after the medical checkups on 1 January, he was diagnosed with low oxygen levels in the blood and fluid in the lungs. These additional complications were a result of the tear gas that Sa’id had inhaled. Sa’id was given the required medical treatment and remained in the hospital. However, that night his heart suddenly stopped beating and he died.
Al-Haq condemns the Israeli authorities’ ongoing restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom of movement, including the closure of the eastern gate in Kufr Qaddoum, which restricts access to essential facilities. Furthermore, Al-Haq expresses its grave concern regarding Israeli settlement expansion on occupied territory. Al-Haq calls upon Israel, as the Occupying Power, to comply with its obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, including the right to freedom of movement, the right to life and the duty to ensure and respect the well-being and safety of the occupied population. Al-Haq urges the Israeli authorities to put an end to disproportionate use of force against protestors, which endangers those involved as well as other nearby residents and civilians.