[News] Israeli Soldiers Attack, Evict, Bab Al-Shams, Arrest Dozens

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jan 14 11:33:56 EST 2013

  */2 articles follow/*

  Israeli Soldiers Attack, Evict, Bab Al-Shams, Arrest Dozens

Sunday January 13, 2013 06:22author by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News

Thousands of Israeli soldiers and policemen attacked, on Saturday at 
dawn, the Bab Al-Shams Palestinian village, installed east of in 
occupied East Jerusalem, and forcibly removed dozens of activists 
loading them into buses.

The soldiers dragged several activists into the ground, attacked 
reporters and journalist and declared the area as a closed military 
zone, several injuries were reported.

The Israeli decision to evacuate the village came, on Saturday, through 
a direct order issued by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and 
his right-wing fundamentalist cabinet.

Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that by midnight Saturday, the order 
was signed by Osnat Mandel, head of the Israeli High Court division of 
the Justice Ministry, under the claimed that "the people and the tends 
must be removed due to security considerations".

The Israeli Police said that the eviction order, issued by the court, 
prohibits the army from removing the tens, but orders the removal of the 
people staying there.

Also, the so-called Israeli Civil Administration Office, run by the 
occupation in the West bank, claimed that the Palestinian tent village 
"was installed on state land".

But four Bedouin families living in the area confirmed that they own the 
land, and even showed deeds proving ownership.

Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, secretary-general of the Palestinian National 
Initiative, who was also at the Palestinian village, stated that 
hundreds of Israeli soldiers invaded the village after surrounding it, 
and attacked the nonviolent activists camped there, and started 
kidnapping them.

The soldiers violently attacked the residents, including journalists, 
elderly and women, and dragged several resident onto the ground.

The soldiers repeatedly interrupted the work of local reporters, 
flashing their lights onto the camera, and pushing the reporters away, 
and dragged dozens of activists into buses that were brought by the army 
to the area.

On Saturday evening, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, ordered 
the army "to remove the Palestinians and their supporters from the 
Palestinian outpost" that was installed on privately-owned Palestinian 
lands to send a message to Israel and the entire world that this land is 
the land of Palestine, and the Palestinian people have the right to 
inhabit it.

The army installed dozens of roadblocks around the area to prevent 
Palestinian traffic and surrounded the Bab Al-Shams where around 200 
activists installed around 20 tents declaring the Bab Al-Shams 
Palestinian village, in the area were Israeli illegally declared it 
intends to build thousands of homes for Jewish settlers, east of 
occupied east Jerusalem.

The Israeli decision to build the illegal settlements in the occupied 
state of Palestine came after the Palestinians managed to obtain an 
observer state status at the UN -- General Assembly.

The Israeli decision was met with international condemnation, but the 
settler-led government of Benjamin Netanyahu, approved the illegal 
settlement project.

The so-called E1 settlement project aims at linking the Maale Adumim 
illegal settlement, where 35000 reside, with occupied East Jerusalem, 
thus illegally confiscating Palestinian lands and blocking geographical 
continuity in the occupied West Bank.

This illegal Israeli project would divide the West Bank into two parts, 
and would completely isolate it from occupied East Jerusalem, an issue 
that would prevent the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.

Abdullah Abu Rahma, a Palestinian nonviolent activist from the West Bank 
village on Bil'in, who was also detained when the army attacked and 
evicted Bab Al-Shams, stated that this village is on private Palestinian 
land, and that the Palestinians are not invading anybody's property, as 
they are establishing a village in the land of Palestine.

"We tied our hands, chained ourselves with each other to prevent the 
soldiers from removing us", Abu Rahma said, "The Soldiers violently 
attacked us, beat us, and injured at least 10"

He added that there will be more nonviolent activities, and that the 
struggle for Bab Al-Shams, the nonviolent struggle for the liberation of 
Palestine will continue as the Palestinians are practicing their 
internationally-guaranteed right.

It is worth mentioning that the Palestine TV was live streaming from Bab 
Al-Shams, and the army repeatedly tried to interrupt the stream, pushing 
the reporters, and using large flashlight, pointing them against the 
camera to disrupt the images.

  Eviction of Bab Al Shams exposes Israel as a lawless state

Max Blumenthal <http://electronicintifada.net/people/max-blumenthal>
Ramallah <http://electronicintifada.net/location/ramallah>
14 January 2013

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/benjamin-netanyahu> was clearly 
troubled by the establishment of Bab Al Shams 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/bab-al-shams>, a Palestinian protest 
village erected on privately-owned Palestinian land, the planned route 
of what Israel calls the "E-1 <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/e-1>" 
corridor in the occupied West Bank.

The E-1 area was to be capstone of Israel's settler-colonial enterprise, 
a long segment of housing units expanding east from the Jews-only 
mega-settlement of Maale Adumim, permanently severing East Jerusalem 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/east-jerusalem> from the rest of the 
West Bank and virtually slicing the West Bank in half. And now, 400 
Palestinians and their supporters stood directly in the way of the plan.

"We will not allow anyone to touch the corridor between Jerusalem and 
Maaleh Adumim," Netanyahu declared ("Israeli security forces evacuate 
activists from Palestinian tent outpost in E-1 area 
/Haaretz/, 13 January).

On 12 January, Netanyahu dispatched a lawyer from the justice ministry 
to the high court 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/israeli-high-court> to argue for the 
immediate eviction of Bab Al Shams. Despite the government's vehement 
objections to the presence of the Palestinian village, the high court 
issued a temporary injunction preventing its eviction for six days 
pending further deliberations.

As the clock struck midnight on Saturday night, Netanyahu summoned his 
lawyers to author a statement overriding the high court. Treating the 
court's ruling as a mere suggestion, the Israeli justice ministry 
concocted a justification that was as ludicrous as it was predictable: 
"There is an urgent security need to evacuate the area of the people and 
tents," it claimed, suggesting without evidence that a few hundred 
unarmed activists presented a grave threat to public safety.

    Journalists banned

I arrived at the site of Bab Al Shams about two hours before Netanyahu 
ordered its eviction. The main entrances to the tent encampment were 
sealed off by squads of Israeli police. A police commander told me and 
other journalists that no reporters were allowed inside the area. Though 
he claimed to hold a formal order from the military, he failed to 
produce any kind of documentation.

An Israeli journalist told me he had been told earlier in the evening by 
Israeli army GOC Central Commander Nitzan Alon that he was free to 
travel anywhere in the West Bank, but that "this [Bab Al Shams] was 
something different."

In order to enter Bab Al Shams, me and three colleagues had to first 
navigate the narrow, pothole-scarred roads of al-Zaim, an impoverished 
Palestinian town severed from the rest of the Jerusalem municipality by 
Israel's separation wall 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/israels-wall-west-bank> and a 
checkpoint. Though al-Zaim is already an overcrowded, under-serviced 
ghetto prevented from expanding to meet the needs of a growing 
population, the construction of the E-1 corridor would enclose it on all 
sides, consolidating its isolation and forced immiseration.

At a muddy field strewn with trash at the outskirts of al-Zaim, we 
climbed out of a small car and hiked towards Bab Al Shams, walking for 3 
kilometers along a craggy path in the bone-chilling cold. There were no 
signs of any army presence on our way, only vehicle caravans heading out 
of the village to gather more supplies for the next day.

When we arrived at the base of the tent encampment, we found Palestinian 
National Initiative Chairman Mustafa Barghouti giving an interview to 
one of many international news outlets embedded in the village. 
Barghouti had helped provide Bab Al Shams with medical supplies, 
supplementing a growing infrastructure that included an Internet hotspot 
and a kitchen.

At the entrance of the village, I found about a dozen residents of Bilin 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/bilin> village huddled around a 
campfire, sipping coffee and smoking cigarettes. "Forget about the 
food," Billin popular committee leader Abdallah Abu Rahme joked. "If we 
don't have cigarettes and coffee we won't survive a night here."

    Popular struggle

For almost eight years, the popular struggle 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/popular-resistance> had been focused 
in rural villages near the Green Line, the 1949 armistice line marking 
the boundary between Israel and the occupied West Bank. Residents in 
these areas have waged a relentless unarmed struggle against the 
separation wall.

In the past year, activists began to take their tactics beyond the 
weekly ritual of village-based protests, organizing creative direct 
actions like the blocking of settler access roads and a raucous protest 
in the Rami Levy settlement supermaket. Bab Al Shams was evidence of the 
new era of protest in Palestine, attracting Palestinian activists from 
inside Israel and from northern West Bank cities like Nablus 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/nablus> and Jenin 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/jenin> not normally associated with 
the popular struggle.

I spoke to Hamde Abu Rahme, a videographer from Bilin, about the 
progression of protest tactics from the embryonic phase of the popular 
struggle to the birth of Bab Al Shams.

"The people here have so much practice with resistance over the years, 
and that explains our success," Abu Rahme told me. "We have a strong 
system of organization and of deciding what we all want, how to best 
handle the army, and how to make sure everyone's needs are looked after. 
With all the roads closed, it wasn't easy to make this village happen, 
but people still came through the mountains and were willing to stay 
here for three days without enough food, without shower, in the freezing 
cold. You can see that people really want to be here, that they are not 
acting because they have to be here."

Abir Kopty <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/abir-kopty>, a 
Palestinian feminist and human rights activist serving as spokesperson 
for the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee 
challenged the widely reported notion that Bab Al Shams was simply a 
Palestinian version of an Israeli "settlement" or "outpost."

"There is a huge difference here," she told me. "We are building on our 
own land unlike the settlers who are occupying and grabbing land that 
isn't theirs."

At the same time, Kopty conceded that organizers of the protest village 
were reacting directly to Israel's colonial tactics.

"I do admit that we want to change the rules of the game," she said. 
"Israel has been imposing facts on the ground and we are doing exactly 
the same. We want to impose facts on our land. So, yes, it might seem 
that we have taken a model from them but the difference is that we are 
building on our land and we are not taking others' land and building on it."

At around 12:30am, I rode out of Bab Al Shams in the back of a pickup 
truck loaded to the gills with journalists and activists. We had no idea 
whether the army was set to raid tonight, or if it might wait another 
day. With the news that the high court had issued a temporary injunction 
against the eviction, we assumed the government would wait to secure 
formal permission. We were wrong.

Towards the end of the rocky path leading into Bab Al Shams, and just 
outside al-Zaim, we barreled by a detachment of Israeli border police 
officers milling around a group of jeeps. It was clear now that the raid 
was imminent, and that even if we wanted to re-enter Bab Al Shams, there 
was no way back inside.

    Forced evacuation

Two hours later some 500 border police troops in full riot gear marched 
into Bab Al Shams and carried its inhabitants away by force. According 
to reports from some of the 150 or activists inside, the police attacked 
journalists, pushing them to the periphery of the encampment so they 
could not record the brutality. Photos of those injured during the raid 
suggest that the police severely assaulted those who refused to leave 
quietly. Six Palestinians, including the artist and activist Hafez Omar 
(a photograph of injured Omar 
is circulating on Facebook), were so badly wounded they required 
treatment at the Ramallah Hospital.

Under pressure from right-wing upstarts amidst a heated election 
contest, Netanyahu ordered the eviction of Bab Al Shams in flagrant 
contempt of the country's high court. And not one of the judges issued a 
word of protest. In a state guided not by the democratic rule of law, 
but by the colonial imperatives of the occupation, Netanyahu's roguery 
was business as usual.

/Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author./

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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