Early Friday morning, a group of some 200 Palestinians, supported by international activists, built a tent city in E1 area separating Ma’ale Adumim from Jerusalem, and announced the creation of the outpost “Bab al-Shams” (Gate of the Sun).
Civil Administration officials arrived in the area, and issued an order to remove this “fresh invasion” off the state-owned land. During the day, Friday, police prevented the entry of additional activists and senior PLO officials Saeb Erekat and Hanan Ashrawi.
“The soldiers treated us improperly and savagely before they forced us to go back to Ramallah,” Ashrawi told Ma’an.
A vehicle carrying Ashrawi and PA minister of social affairs, Majida al-Masri, was stopped and searched at a checkpoint, with soldiers preventing the officials from continuing to the E1 area, despite holding Jerusalem ID cards.
Ashrawi said earlier that she fully supported and encouraged non-violent popular resistance against Israeli occupation, praising the activists for their “creative” means of protecting Palestinian land.
Al-Masri also congratulated the activists for their actions, saying it provided an example which should be followed across the occupied West Bank.
“Establishing a Palestinian village on Palestinian land slated for confiscation by Israel for thousands of settlement units is a form of popular resistance to the Israeli occupation and land theft,” the PA official said.
“Bab al-Shams must be set up in all Palestinian districts, in Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Nablus, Tubas, the Jordan Valley, Salfit, Qalqiliya, Jenin, and Tulkarem. Organizers of such protests must receive support,” al-Masri added.
It was reported, however, that Mustafa Barghouti, member of the Palestinian “The Day After” committee, visited the outpost this morning.
Israel’s military has also prevented activists from neighboring areas access to the “protest village” since Friday.
“We only have our determination, and it will not be easy to expel us from our homes. We will use our experience and skills to remain on the land,” local activist Abdullah Abu Rahma told Ma’an.
Leading activist Salah al-Khawaja said that the group is determined to stay on the land. “This is Palestinian land, it is our right to build our villages on our land whenever we like. We will not accept displacement and we will stay,” he said.
Four Bedouin families from the area, claiming ownership of the land, petitioned the High Court to prevent the demolition.
The petition, filed by attorney Tawfiq Jabarin, states that “the tents were erected on private lands as part of a tourism project to attract tourists who wish to learn about the heritage of the Bedouin living in the area, and enjoy the desert Bedouin experience.”
According to the petition, the project is called “Albadia” and supposedly includes “a variety of fun activities to encourage familiarity with Bedouin Arab culture,” and that the “Initiative involves seasonal winter and spring period only.”
Following the petition, the High Court issued a temporary order staying the evacuation of the area as long as there are no security issues that require an urgent evacuation. The state, however, will appeal to the High Court tonight (Saturday) to cancel the stay order, and enable the evacuation of the outpost.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu ordered the closing of all access roads, and for now the area is declared a closed military zone.
The activists established the outpost in reaction to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to hasten the planning process of Mevaseret Adumim, the neighborhood that should be constructed in the E1 area, between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem.
Netanyahu’s decision caused a wave of international condemnation and calls for Israel to change its mind.