The IDF and police forces early Sunday morning evacuated some 250
Palestinian activists from an outpost they erected in E1, an undeveloped
area in the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement.
They completed the
evacuation around an hour later, with no arrests or injuries reported by
police, although Palestinian activists said at least one man was taken
to a Ramallah hospital. Those protesters who refused to leave were
carried down the hill by officers, but there was no violence, police
was evacuated carefully and swiftly, without any injuries to officers
or protesters," said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
Activists said police brought at least some of those evicted to the Kalandiya checkpoint in the north of Jerusalem.
to the evacuation, the state had appealed to the High Court of Justice,
asking the court to rescind a temporary injunction it issued on Friday,
saying that failure to evacuate immediately will lead to riots in the
In the interim, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered
access roads to the area closed. The IDF then declared it a closed
The Palestinians “could be evacuated in several
hours with no problem if the decision is made to do so,” Rosenfeld said ahead of the operation.
headed to E1 on Friday and set up more than 20 tents to establish a new
village, organizers said, following Israel’s decision last month to
advance plans to build 3,500 homes there.
Authority has said that E1 land is needed so the future Palestinian
state will be viable and have territorial continuity. It warned that
Israeli construction there imperils the two-state solution.
an effort to prevent Israeli building in E1, the Palestinian
nongovernmental organization the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee
organized a group of Palestinians – as well as Israeli and other
foreign activists – to head to the area to build a village, which they
have called Bab Alshams (“Gate of the Sun”).
They built it on a
section of E1 land which they say belongs to the neighboring village of
a-Tur, Jerusalem’s a-Tur neighborhood on the Mount of Olives.
Alshams is the gate to our freedom and steadfastness. Bab Alshams is
our gate to Jerusalem,” the committee told the press. “Bab Alshams is
the gate to our to our return.
“For decades, Israel has
established facts on the ground as the international community remained
silent in response to these violations. The time has come now to change
the rules of the game, for us to establish facts on the ground – our own
land,” the NGO said.
Palestinians over the weekend hailed the
establishment of a new “village” as a turning point in the conflict with
Israel and a step that would pave the way for Palestinian independence.
PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said Bab Alshams was built to salvage the
two-state solution at a time when Israel was trying to “destroy” it.
“Israel must choose between settlements and peace,” Erekat said. “The two can’t go together.”
official Hanan Ashrawi said, “This initiative is a highly creative and
legitimate nonviolent 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
Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s spokesman, said,
“This is illegal activity on public land, and it will end. “This is a
meaningless gimmick. If the Palestinians really wanted to change things
they would have negotiated with Israel. This is a meaningless gesture.”
Saturday, Fatah called on its supporters to head to the area to prevent
soldiers and police from evicting the activists. Several senior
Palestinian officials who tried to join the activists said soldiers and
policemen had turned them back.
One of them, PA Labor Minister Ahmed Majdalani, complained that the IDF confiscated his Israeli-issued VIP card.
Ashrawi and PA Social Welfare Minister Majida al-Masri were also
prevented from entering Bab Alshams. Still scores of Palestinians joined
the activists on Saturday after avoiding checkpoints by leaving the
road and hiking up the hill.
According to Popular Struggle
Coordination Committee spokeswoman Abir Kopty, famed Lebanese writer
Elias Khoury, author of the epic novel Bab Alshams (Gate of the Sun)
after which the village is named, phoned the residents earlier today to
express his support.
“You have revived Bab Alshams,” he said. “I wish I were there with you.”
Kopty added that many Israeli security personnel were already stationed nearby.
Both she and the group’s attorney, Tawfiq Jabareen, said that the land was private Palestinian property.
to the Civil Administration for Judea and Samaria, the land belongs to
the state. It noted that the tents were pitched without permits and as
such it issued eviction notices there on Friday.
that in his petition to the High Court for an injunction, which he was
granted, he argued that the property had been misclassified as state
He added that he had heard from the media that the state was now appealing that injunction.
Saturday night, MKs Michael Ben-Ari and Arieh Eldad, who are running
for reelection with the Strong Israel party, said that unless the
outpost was taken down over night, they planned to head to the area on
Sunday to hold an election meeting. They called on Netanyahu to stop
talking, and to start building in Judea and Samaria.Tovah Lazaroff, Ben Hartman, Khaled Abu Toameh, Reuters and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.