Soldiers plant explosives on outskirts of Palestinian village day before weekly protests
On Thursday, 20 August 2020, residents of the village of Kafr Qadum in the West Bank discovered camouflaged improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted in an area where weekly protests take place, on the outskirts of the village. A group of women and children strolling in the area came upon a suspicious object covered in stones and fabric and alerted a relative. In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi, Wasim a-Shteiwi (31) related:
I went over to the suspicious-looking object, which was covered with small stones and Israeli military camouflage. I took the stones off and found a closed orange box wrapped with wires and duct tape. I just managed to pick up the box and remove the wires, and then it exploded with a flash and caught fire. Bits of shrapnel hit my right arm and eye.
A-Shteiwi received medical assistance from a paramedic in the village.
Village residents discovered a second IED along the same trail and threw stones at it to blow it up. The military itself disarmed a third IED later that night.
In response to questions by Ha’aretz reporters, the military admitted that soldiers had planted the IEDs, claiming they were stun grenades without no other explosives that had been placed “in an uninhabited, open area where violent disturbances of the peace have been taking place regularly for several years”, in order to “create deterrence”. The IDF Spokesperson disingenuously added that “after it transpired there was potential for injury, the forces took action to remove them from the area”. The military’s response ignored the fact that one of the IEDS had already exploded and lightly wounded a village resident. It is also inconsistent with the fact that the IEDs were placed about 150 meters away from a home, in an area that villagers, including children, regularly frequent. The military refused to answer Ha'aretz’s queries about who had approved the placement of the IEDs on pathways used by residents and who had prepared them.
Since 2011, the residents of Kafr Qadum have been holding weekly protests against the closure of the main entrance to the village. The entrance, which led to Nablus, was sealed off in 2003 when it was included in the expansion of the settlement of Kedumim. The military operates on the basic assumption that Palestinians in the Occupied Territories do not have the right to protest, and exacts a very high price from them for insisting to do so. In the last 13 months alone, a 9-year-old boy and a 15-year-old were shot in the head in Kafr Qadum; a military bulldozer pushed boulders to tumble down at protestors, injuring a journalist and almost crushing a child; soldiers were documented firing tear gas canisters at the home of the protests’ leader, slashing the tires of a parked car, and firing at residents’ water tanks.
Even in an area where acts of retaliation by soldiers have become routine, planting IEDs is an exceptional step that by sheer luck did not result in grave injury. That is how militias operate, not a regular army. The action reflects the spirit of Israel’s political and military leadership, which conveys total disregard for the lives and personal safety of Palestinians.