Israel orders Palestinian protest camp removed
The Israeli army ordered Palestinian demonstrators on Sunday to evacuate a protest encampment in the West Bank consisting of four tents and a building under construction, a military spokesman said.
Three of the tents and the building near the Palestinian village of Beit Iksa were on land owned by the Jewish state, and the fourth tent was on the route of a planned separation barrier, the spokesman told AFP.
Activists on Friday set up the encampment to protest against Israel’s intention to confiscate at least 124 acres (50 hectares) of land near the village, located on the northwestern outskirts of Jerusalem.
The activists said they were naming the village extension Bab al-Karama, Arabic for Gate of Dignity.
About 100 residents and activists were at the site when Israeli soldiers issued the “invasion removal orders,” and minor scuffles broke out before the troops left the scene.
One of the organisers, Saeed Yaqin, told AFP that “the first thing we did was to tear up the order and throw it in the soldiers’ faces. We and all the Palestinian people object and reject the military order.”
“This is the first time since 1967 somebody’s torn up a military order,” he said.
“The land here is under occupation, and international law prohibits touching it,” Yaqin added.
Bab al-Karama was inspired by a separate Palestinian protest camp of 24 tents set up on a disputed piece of land on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem that was dismantled by police last week.
Activists had established the camp, which they dubbed Bab al-Shams, or Gate of the Sun in Arabic, also in a bid to draw attention to Israeli plans to build in the area, known as E1.
The army spokesman called the Beit Iksa encampment “a provocation intended to undo order in the West Bank.”
“If they want to protest the route of the separation barrier, which was approved by legal authorities in Israel, they can appeal to a court, which in the past has more than once ordered the route changed,” he added.
Israel is constructing a barrier between itself and the Palestinian territories which is intended to completely encircle Jerusalem.