Soldiers detain 60-year-old blocking settler tree planting

12:00 Feb 6 2012 Kafr Qaddum

QALQILIYA (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained a 60-year-old man obstructing Israeli settlers from digging up land in Qalqiliya village Kafr Qaddum on Monday, witnesses and security officials said.

Yaqoub Ishtawi tried to block a group of Israeli soldiers and settlers from razing village land, activist Murad Ishtewi told PA news agency Wafa.

Soldiers beat Ishtawi severely before detaining him, Ishtewi added.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said the 60-year-old had "cursed, spat and bit an (Israeli) soldier," and was transferred to police custody.

On Sunday, witnesses told Ma'an that tanks and soldiers arrived in the village and uprooted olive trees. Residents fear Israel intends to expand neighboring Jewish-only settlement Qedumim.

The army spokeswoman said bulldozers were in the village area "to prepare the ground for tree planting by COGAT (the Israeli defense department in charge of the West Bank civil affairs) on its property."

Soldiers then escorted "Israeli civilians to plant trees as its the traditional custom of festival 15 Shevat" which falls on Monday, she said. Palestinians gathered and hurled rocks at them, she added.

The village holds a weekly protest against the decade-long closure of the Kufr Qaddum's main entrance. Israeli forces clamped down on a weekly non-violent demonstration on Friday in the Qalqiliya village.

On Jan. 30, Israeli forces detained five men from the village, locals told Ma'an.
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