Ma’aleh Adumim must be linked to Jerusalem, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the cabinet Sunday as he thanked the police and the IDF for their rapid evacuation of Palestinian activists from E1, an un-built area of that West Bank settlement.
“We will not allow anyone to harm the contiguity between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim,” he said.
He spoke hours after some 500 Border Police removed Palestinians from an outpost of more than 20 tents they had erected Friday on E1, named Bab Alshama (Gate of the Sun).
They did not take apart the tents, which were allowed to remain, pending a High Court of Justice decision on matter.
The IDF declared the area a closed military zone on Saturday night. The eviction began at 2:30 a.m. Sunday and was completed with in an hour, said National Police Spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld.
There were no injuries to police or protesters, said Rosenfeld.
Police removed people one by one taking care not to cause injuries, and did so without using tear gas or other such crowd dispersal means, he said.
He estimated that police bused 120 Palestinians out of the area.
There were also around two-dozen journalists removed from the scene by police on Saturday night, Rosenfeld said.
At Sunday’s cabinet meeting Netanyahu said, “I would like to praise the Israel Police, with the support of the IDF, for its rapid and determined operation to evacuate the Palestinian gathering in the area between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim.”
“As soon as I was updated on the Palestinian gathering, I ordered its immediate evacuation and it was indeed carried out last night in the best possible manner,” Netanyahu said.
But Abir Kopty, a spokeswoman for the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee alleged that six people were injured during the eviction. In some cases police punched them in the face, she alleged..
“Press were also attacked and prevented from documenting the events,” she alleged.
Palestinians built an outpost on E1 to protest Israel’s decision last month to advance plans to build 3,500 Jewish homes there.
The Palestinian 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.
Aside from its general objection to Israeli construction on E1, the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee has also claimed that newly created village of Bab Alshama is located on private Palestinian property belonging to the neighboring village of A-Tur.
Attorney Tawfiq Jabareen who represented the Palestinians explain this to the High Court of Justice when he secured a temporary injunction against the outpost’s removal on Friday.
But the court’s language spoke of the tents, not the people, and added that security factors could shift the decision, Jabareen said.
The state notified court around midnight, that due to security concerns it was removing Palestinians from the Bab Alshama, Jabareen said.
Kopty said that the eviction was illegal “since Bab Alshams was established on private Palestinian land.”
The creation of the Bab Alshams, she said, inspired Palestinians around the world.
“This is not the end of the popular struggle and it will continue in its full strength,” she said.
“Bab Alshams is the gate to our freedom and steadfastness. Bab Alshams is our gate to Jerusalem,” the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee told the press on Saturday.
“Bab Alshams is the gate to our to our return,” it said.
“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.
Chief 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.”
PLO 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 Israeli occupation.”
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.”
On 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.
Erekat, 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 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.”