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Eviction of Bab Al Shams exposes Israel as a lawless state

Bab_Al_Shams_Eviction

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was clearly troubled by the establishment of Bab Al Shams, a Palestinian protest village erected on privately-owned Palestinian land, the planned route of what Israel calls the “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 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 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 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 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

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For almost eight years, the popular struggle 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 and 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, 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.

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In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

How 20 Tents Rocked Israel: Palestinians Take the Fight to their Occupiers ~ by Jonathan Cook

When the Palestinian leadership won their upgrade to non-member observer status at the United Nations in November, plenty of sceptics on both sides of the divide questioned what practical benefits would accrue to the Palestinians. The doubters have not been silenced yet.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has done little to capitalise on his diplomatic success. There have been vague threats to “isolate” Israel, hesitant talk of “not ruling out” a referral to the International Criminal Court, and a low-key declaration by the Palestinian Authority of the new “state of Palestine”.

At a time when Palestinians hoped for a watershed moment in their struggle for national liberation, the Fatah and Hamas leaderships look as mutually self-absorbed as ever. Last week they were again directing their energies into a new round of reconciliation talks, this time in Cairo, rather than keeping the spotlight on Israeli intransigence.

So instead, it was left to a group of 250 ordinary Palestinians to show how the idea of a “state of Palestine” might be given practical meaning. On Friday, they set up a tent encampment that they intended to convert into a new Palestinian village called Bab al-Shams, or Gate of the Sun.

On Sunday, in a sign of how disturbed Israel is by such acts of popular Palestinian resistance, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had the the occupants removed in a dawn raid — despite the fact that his own courts had issued a six-day injunction against the government’s “evacuation” order.

Intriguingly, the Palestinian activists not only rejected their own leaders’ softly-softly approach but also chose to mirror the tactics of the hardcore settlers.

First, they declared they were creating “facts on the ground”, having understood, it seems, that this is the only language Israel speaks or understands. Then, they selected the most contentious spot imaginable for Israel: the centre of the so-called E-1 corridor, 13 square-kilometres of undeveloped land between East Jerusalem and Israel’s strategic city-settlement of Maale Adumim in the West Bank.

For more than a decade, Israel has been planning to build its own settlement in E-1, though on a vastly bigger scale, to finish the encirclement of East Jerusalem, cutting off the future capital of a Palestinian state from the West Bank.

The US had stayed Israel’s hand, understanding that completion in E-1 would signal to the world and the Palestinians the end of a two-state solution. But following the UN vote, Netanyahu announced plans to build an additional 4,000 settler homes there as punishment for the Palestinians’ impertinence.

The comparison between the Bab al-Shams activists and the settlers should not be extended too far. One obvious difference is that the Palestinians were building on their own land, whereas Israel is breaking international law in allowing hundreds of thousands of settlers to move into the West Bank.

Another is that Israel’s response towards the two groups was preordained to be different. This is especially clear in relation to what Israel itself calls the “illegal outposts” — more than 100 micro-settlements, similar to Bab al-Shams, set up by hardcore settlers since the mid-1990s, after Israel promised the US it would not authorise any new settlements.

Despite an obligation to dismantle the outposts, successive Israeli governments have allowed them to flourish. In practice, within days of the first caravans appearing on a West Bank hilltop officials hook up the “outposts” to electricity and water, build them access roads and redirect bus routes to include them. The spread of the settlements and outposts has been leading inexorably to Israel’s de facto annexation of most of the West Bank.

In stark contrast, all access to Bab al-Shams was blocked within hours of the tents going up and the next day Netanyahu had the site declared a closed military zone. As soon as the Jewish Sabbath was over, troops massed around the camp. Early on Sunday morning they stormed in.

Netanyahu was clearly afraid to allow any delay. Palestinians started using social media over the weekend to plan mass rallies at road-blocks leading to the camp site.

However futile the activists’ efforts prove to be on this occasion, the encampment indicates that ordinary Palestinians are better placed to find inventive ways to embarrass Israel than the hidebound Palestinian leadership.

Senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi extolled the activists for their “highly creative and legitimate nonviolent tool” to protect Palestinian land. But the failure of PA officials, including Saeb Erekat, to make it to the site before it was cordoned off by Israel only heightened the impression of a leadership too slow and unimaginative to respond to events.

By establishing Bab al-Shams, the activists visibly demonstrated the apartheid nature of Israel’s rule in the occupied territories. Although one brief encampment is unlikely by itself to change the dynamics of the conflict, it does show Palestinians that there are ways they themselves can take the struggle to Israel.

Following the Israeli raid, that point was made eloquently by Mohammed Khatib, one of the organisers. “In establishing Bab al-Shams, we declare that we have had enough of demanding our rights from the occupier — from now on we shall seize them ourselves.”

That, of course, is also Netanyahu’s great fear. The scenario his officials are reported to be most concerned about is that this kind of popular mode of struggle becomes infectious. If Palestinians see popular non-violent resistance, unlike endless diplomacy, helping to awaken the world to their plight, there may be more Bab al-Shamses — and other surprises for Israel — around the corner.

It was precisely such thinking that led Israel’s attorney-general, Yehuda Weinstein, to justify Netanyahu’s violation of the injunction on the grounds that the camp would “bring protests and riots with national and international implications”.

What Bab al-Shams shows is that ordinary Palestinians can take the fight for the “state of Palestine” to Israel — and even turn Israel’s own methods against it.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His new website is www.jonathan-cook.net.

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In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

Bab Al Shams Setup and Invasion by Israel Defence Force

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In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

BabAlShams – A Small Village in Palestine

Bab_AlShams

Israeli occupation forces invaded Bab Al Shams village in the middle of the night and arrested all it’s residents and removed them by force injuring six Palestinians. The Residents of Bab AlShams were forced on an Israeli police bus and driven through Jerusalem/Al Quds, from which as Palestinians they are banned by Israel, and dropped off at the Qalandia military checkpoint near Ramallah.

As usual the army attacked the press tried to prevent photographers or those with cameras of taking photos and reports on twitter indicate the army deployed heavy flashes to disturb cameras from taking footage of the invasion of Bab Al Shams.

For background: What is the E1 Area and why is it so important?

Reminder: Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 13:1

 ”Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state” 

Continuous (Live) Updates, Photos, Video and related news below article

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Palestinian, International Activists Storm E1 Zone, New Palestinian Village to be Build

Bab_Al_Shams

On Friday 11th January, dozens of Palestinian activists from the Palestinian Popular Resistance stormed this morning, E1 Area, which connects Jerusalem with Ma’ali Adumim settlement, and started to erect tents in preparation to start building o a new Palestinian village under the name Bab As-Shams (Gate of the Sun).

Around 200 Palestinian and International activists raided the Area; some entered from Jerusalem and others from Ma’ali Adumim and set about 30 tents for now.

The activists told PNN that they raided the E1 Area in response to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s settlement plans that aim to destroy every chance of the two-state solution and the establishment of a Palestinian, independent state according to the UN recent decision that recognized the Palestinian state.

The activists said the Israeli settlement construction will not prevent the establishment of the Palestinian state and that they raided the E1 zone to prove that these lands, which Netanyahu plan to steel in order to build settlements from one hand and to win votes in the upcoming Israeli elections from the other hand, are Palestinian. Adding, they will stay steadfast in the area and will start to establish the Palestinian village despite all the Israeli attempts to prevent it.

Activist of the Palestinian Popular Resistance also said they started to set tents on these lands to resist any Israeli step to build settlements.

They expressed confidence and hope that the Palestinian people will support them and called the different institutions to begin setting investment plans to begin developing the project and build the Palestinian village. (Report by PNN English)

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Originally posted on Its Palestine Not Israel:

IDF invading Bab Al Shams

Thousands of Israeli soldiers and policemen attacked, on Saturday at dawn, the Bab Al-Shams Palestinian village (outpost), 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…

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