Israeli Security Forces Evacuate Activists From Palestinian Tent Outpost in E-1 Area

Heavy security forces remove protesters; Haaretz findings determine the camp opposing planned Israeli settlement construction is located on private Palestinian land.

Chaim Levinson
Barak Ravid
Reuters
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Chaim Levinson
Barak Ravid
Reuters

Hundreds of Israeli security forces early Sunday evacuated some100 Palestinians from a protest tent camp set up two days earlier in the E-1 corridor east of Jerusalem.

The evacuation - which involved about 500 Israel Police officers and Israel Defense Force soldiers - was carried out following a temporary injunction issued by the High Court of Justice preventing the state from dismantling the tent encampment for six days, pending deliberations.

Protesters refusing to evacuated leave were carried down the hill by Israeli officials, but there were no reports of injuries. "Everyone was evacuated carefully and swiftly, without any injuries to officers or protesters," said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the evacuation order on Saturday, and by late night the IDF had the area surrounded and were preventing supporters from entering. Activists said they would oppose any attempt to forcibly remove them.

Netanyahu said Sunday that he had ordered the area sealed off immediately after hearing of the tent encampment. "I immediately called for the area to be closed off so there would not be large gatherings there that could cause friction and breach the public order," he said.

"We will not allow anyone to touch the corridor between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim," Netanyahu added.

Haaretz has determined that the tents were put up on private Palestinian land. In preparing the plans for area E-1 in the West Bank, the state in 2005 examined the records for the lands on which the settlement is to be built. The plan shows an area of 1,500 dunams (375 acres) out of the total 12,000 dunams (3,000 acres‏) allocated for construction that Civil Administration figures indicate is privately owned by Palestinians, although the land was not registered officially.

The state's position, issued close to midnight on Saturday and signed by Osnat Mandel, head of the Justice Ministry's High Court division, stated that "there is an urgent security need to evacuate the area of the people and tents."

The state included a confidential intelligence assessment about the urgent security need. The state also specified that before evacuating the tents it would complete an inspection of the encampment and dismantle them accordingly, and demanded immediate evacuation of the people and intends to act immediately. The police have said court injunction prohibits removal of the tents but not the people.

Some 200 Palestinians and foreign peace activists had set up 21 tents at the site Friday in protest of Netanyahu's highly controversial announcement in November regarding construction plans for area E-1, located between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem.

Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian activist who led the protest at the site, said: “The people who need to leave are the settlers who have taken over the land, because the Palestinians have the right to stay on their land.”

Israeli security forces evacuate Palestinian tent city in E-1 area of the West Bank.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
E-1 Area map.Credit: Haaretz
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The Palestinian tent camp in E-1, January 12, 2013.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
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Israeli security forces evacuate Palestinian tent city in E-1 area of the West Bank.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
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Israeli security forces evacuate Palestinian tent city in E-1 area of the West Bank.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi