Palestinian tent village in Jerusalem evicted despite court ruling

Tony Gosling tony at
Mon Jan 14 19:06:51 GMT 2013

Israel evicts E1 Palestinian peace camp protesters
Israeli military detain activists in early 
morning swoop on Bab al-Shams encampment despite supreme court ruling
Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem - The Guardian - 
Sunday 13 January 2013 11.56 GMT
The Israeli state has swung into action against a 
group of Palestinian activists who established a 
tent village on a rocky hillside east of 
Jerusalem, with hundreds of security officials 
carrying out an eviction under the orders of the 
prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, in the early hours of Sunday morning.
According to activists, a large military force 
surrounded the encampment at around 3am. All 
protesters were detained and six were injured, said Abir Kopty.
On Saturday evening, Netanyahu demanded the 
Israeli supreme court overturn an injunction 
preventing the removal of the protesters, and 
ordered the area to be declared a closed military zone.
Around 200 Palestinian activists set up the 
village, named Bab al-Shams ("gate of the sun") 
and comprising around 20 tents, early on Friday 
morning on a highly sensitive swath of land known 
as E1, which Israel has earmarked for settlement 
development. The protesters' actions echoed the 
tactics of radical settlers when establishing outposts in the West Bank.
The tents were erected on privately owned 
Palestinian land, the protesters said, with the 
full permission of the landowners. The activists 
sought legal protection from the supreme court, 
which granted an injunction against eviction and 
gave the state of Israel up to six days to respond.
Following the eviction, the Popular Struggle 
Co-ordinating Committee, which was involved in 
setting up the camp, said the state's actions 
were illegal because Bab al-Shams was established 
on private land. "The action succeeded in 
inspiring all the residents of the village as 
well as Palestinians around the world. This is 
not the end of the popular struggle."
Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouti, who was 
among those detained, said the eviction was 
"proof that the Israeli government operates an 
apartheid system. Firstly it decided that supreme 
court decisions do not apply to Palestinians. And 
secondly, there are more than 120 Israeli 
outposts in the West Bank that are illegal even 
under Israeli law. Not only are they still there, 
but they are expanding and they are being 
legalised one after another. We were there for 
less than 48 hours, and the state used violent 
force against a non-violent peaceful resistance movement."
The protest was launched six weeks after 
Netanyahu announced plans to press ahead with the 
development of E1, triggering strong 
international condemnation. The area, measuring 
around 12 sq km, lies between Jerusalem and the 
vast West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Adumim.
The Palestinian Authority and most western 
diplomats say the development of E1 will damage 
the prospects of a viable Palestinian state by 
almost bisecting the West Bank, effectively 
cutting it off from East Jerusalem, which is 
intended to be the future capital of a Palestinian state.
Speaking on Israel army radio on Sunday, 
Netanyahu said that planning for E1 is moving 
ahead and that "there will be construction".
Asked why the protesters were removed, Netanyahu 
said: "They have no reason to be there. I asked 
immediately to close the area so people would not 
gather there needlessly and generate friction and disrupt public order."
On Saturday, scores of Palestinian activists 
visited the site, perched close to a Bedouin 
encampment and within sight of a huge Israeli 
police headquarters. Activists brewed sweet tea 
and coffee on open fires, and volunteers manned a 
medical centre in one tent. Rubbish was collected 
by a team organised by a member of the seven-strong "village council".
Mahmoud Zawahra, a protest leader, described the 
tent village as "constructive resistance".
"We are part of a non-violent resistance 
movement. For us, this is occupied land so we 
created a village to stop the Israeli plan to 
build a settlement here," he said.
Another activist, Samir, who declined to give his 
full name, said the protest had been organised 
secretly. "We know the army follows us on Twitter 
and Facebook, so we made out we were holding a protest somewhere else."
Activists were trained in non-violent resistance 
techniques, he added. "This is not a Scout camp, 
it is to empower Palestinians on the ground. We 
know [the army] will come, and we are prepared."
Tha'ar Aniz, from nearby Azariya, said 
temperatures had plummeted overnight. "It was 
very cold. But if you want to be free, you have to withstand such things."
Israeli security forces prevented Palestinian 
officials Hanan Ashrawi and Saeb Erekat from 
visiting the site on Saturday. Earlier, Ashrawi 
welcomed the establishment of Bab al-Shams, 
saying: "This initiative is a highly creative and 
legitimate non-violent tool to protect our land from Israeli colonial plans.
"We have the right to live anywhere in our state, 
and we call upon the international community to 
support such initiatives, as well as to protect 
those who are being threatened by Israeli 
occupation forces for exercising their right to 
peaceful resistance against the illegal Israeli occupation."
• This article was amended on 14 January 2013. 
Activists were detained but not formally arrested. This has been corrected.

pix - vid -

Palestinians evicted from E1, east of Jerusalem, 
less than 48 hours after beginning protest
Independent - Alistair Dawber - Jerusalem - Sunday 13 January 2013
A group of Palestinian protesters who had built a 
tented village in a strategically important area 
of the West Bank have been evicted by Israeli 
police, less than 48 hours after beginning their action.
As many as 250 protesters were moved by the 
police and members of the Israeli Defence Force 
from the site in the area known as E1, east of 
Jerusalem, which has been earmarked for development by Israeli settlers.
The Palestinians, borrowing a tactic from 
settlers in the West Bank, moved into the area on 
Friday saying that they wanted to establish 
‘facts of the ground,’ a phase often used during 
peace negotiations to recognise realities on the 
ground, rather than historic claims to ownership of land.
The activists said that they wanted to build a 
village called Bab al-Shams, or Gateway to the 
Sun, at the site. The bid comes two weeks after 
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, 
said that Israel would press ahead with plans to 
build a settlement in the area, in response to 
the declaration at the United Nations of de facto 
Palestinian statehood in November.
The UN declaration attracted support from most 
nations, with Israel and the United States voting 
against the bid - the UK government abstained.
The commitment by the Israeli government to build 
settlements comes despite the area being 
internationally recognised as occupied Palestinian territory.
Palestinians say furthermore, that construction 
of a new settlement would seriously jeopardise 
the prospects of a future Palestinian state, as 
it would effectively cut off the West Bank from 
East Jerusalem, which they have designated as 
their capital city. The site cleared lies between 
East Jerusalem and the existing Jewish settlement of Maale Adumin.
Palestinian activist, Abdullah Abu Rahma, said 
that the protesters hoped to continue their 
action, and would re-pitch their tents. “Today, 
we will see if we can return," he said. It is 
thought that the Palestinians could also repeat 
the move in other parts of the West Bank.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said 
police evicted the protesters from the site after 
a court decision authorising their removal. 
According to the Associated Press, he did not 
know which court had allowed the eviction. Mr 
Rosenfled said that there had been no injuries, a 
point disputed by the Palestinians who said that 
six people had been lightly hurt.
In a statement, the Popular Struggle Coordination 
Committee, a grass-roots Palestinian group, said: 
“Even though we were evicted, our strength was 
apparent since the police needed hundreds and 
hundreds of special unit police officers.”
Mr Netanyahu ordered that roads leading to the 
area be closed on Saturday evening and instructed 
the military to declare a closed military zone 
and shut off access. The prime minister’s office 
added that the state was petitioning Israel’s 
Supreme Court to rescind an earlier injunction 
blocking the evacuation. On Friday, the Supreme 
Court had given the protesters six days to dismantle their tents.
The issue of E1 settlement building has returned 
in recent weeks, although many doubt that the 
Israelis genuinely intend to build in the area, 
rather it is being used as a general election 
issue, with the polls now just over a week away.

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