State seeks okay to dismantle Palestinian E1 tents

Government disputes activists’ claim that land was Palestinian property, notes it had been declared state land in 1982, 2005.

Palestinian activists erect tents in E1 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian activists erect tents in E1 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The state on Tuesday night asked the High Court of Justice to rescind its temporary injunction protecting 25 large white protest tents, erected by Palestinians activists last Friday on an undeveloped area of Ma’aleh Adumim known as E1.
Early Sunday morning Border Police forcibly evacuated over 100 activists from the encampment, which Palestinians have called Bab Alshams. However they left the tents, which were protected by an injunction.
On Tuesday night, in its petition to the court, the state disputed the activists’ claim that the land was private Palestinian property, noting that it had been declared state land in 1982 and again in 2005.
The state added that the Palestinians were staging a nationalist battle that had little to do with property rights.
High-level Palestinian politicians are behind the movement, the state warned, noting that the Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat was stopped Saturday on his way to the encampment.
The state warned that the tents were provocative and would caused continued public disturbances. They serve as an incentive for Palestinians to continue to attempt to return to the encampment, it said.
The activists plan to use the new encampment to exploit the emotions of the international community, the state wrote to the court in its legal brief.
On Tuesday afternoon, Palestinians tried to return to Bab Alshams under the auspices of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, which had organized construction of the temporary encampment.
Ch.-Insp. of the Judea and Samaria District Police Dudi Ashraf said about 60 people showed up at the site on Tuesday, with some approaching from the main highway and others scaling down to the site on foot.
Ashraf said police told the activists the area was a closed military zone.
Moments later a number exited their cars and began running towards the site, at which point they were arrested, he said.
Ashraf said police used stun grenades to expel the activists, arresting 13 on the road and a further nine closer to the site of the outpost.
Altogether 22 activists are undergoing questioning at the Judea and Samaria police station, police said late afternoon on Tuesday.
An additional 40 or so activists were escorted out of the area by police, and taken to nearby checkpoints by buses and police vehicles, he said.
Ashraf said the security forces on the scene Tuesday included YASSAM, Border Police, and Israel Police officers, who he said “will show zero tolerance to violations of the military closure.”
Ashraf added that police gave out parking tickets to eight cars that activists left on the side of the highway, and that an additional car was towed from the site.
Popular Struggle Coordination Committee spokeswoman Abir Kopty charged that the police had treated them violently. She vowed that activists would continue the nonviolent fight to return to their land on E1.
“We are determined that the occupation won’t stop us,” she said, explaining that the land on which the tents were built belonged at one time to the east Jerusalem neighborhood of E-Tur.
The creation of Bab Alshams was sparked by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s November 30 decision to advance plans to build 3,500 new units on E1.
Both Israelis and Palestinians claim that the area is integral for future development to securing their future in the region, and both want sovereignty over it.
In New York, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon took notice of Bab Alshams. On Monday night, Ban said it was important for E1 protests “to continue to remain peaceful and for the right to peaceful protest to be fully respected” and that he too was concerned by Netanyahu’s decision.
Ban noted that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law, and repeated his call that any such settlement plans for E1 must be rescinded.
Recent Palestinian demonstrations in the E1 area, as well as the Israeli evacuation of the protesters, were largely nonviolent, he said.