Dozens of Palestinians erected semi-permanent tents in the E-1 area of the West Bank on Friday in protest at continuing construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and in attempt to create a foothold for what they hope will become a permanent settlement.
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A police contingency has blocked entry to the site, and there is still no decision on what is to be done with those already there.
Abdallah Abu Rahma, a leading Palestinian activist, said that the decision to build the new village sends the message that "Palestinians are no longer content with policies of occupation and settlement."
According to Abu Rahma, the project was started roughly a month ago, mainly by Palestinian residents of villages in danger of having their lands "frozen" to accommodate settlement expansions. The activists are from A-Tur, Isawiyah, Abu Dis, al-Eizariya, and Anata, among other places. Abu Rahma said that the activists will live at the location until their outpost is recognized.
On Friday morning, 25 tents were erected for residents, as well as one to be used as a health clinic. Activists stated that they will hold daily events to discuss Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's settlement policies.
Mohammad Khatib, one of the organizers of the tent village, said "this is not a symbolic act, but comes in response to Israeli settlement building and we are sending a message to the international community that urgent action must be taken against Israel's settlement construction."
After putting up the tents, the group involved issued the following statement: "We, the sons and daughters of Palestine, declare the founding of the village 'Bab al-Shams,' (gate of the sun), by order of the people, without permission from the occupation, or any other body, because this land is ours, as is the right to build on it."
They continued: "We are building the village because we can no longer keep quiet regarding the continuing construction of settlements and theft of our land, and because we believe that concrete action and grassroots opposition will achieve our goals."
E-1 is an area of 12 square kilometers, stretching from the north and the west of the town of Ma’aleh Adumim in the West Bank. The Israeli government recently announced plans to construct roughly 4,000 housing units in the area, part of a planned expansion for the settlement Ma'aleh Adumim.
The group responsible for erecting the tents also stated that they will not leave the land "until the Palestinian owners of this land are allowed to realize their right to it."
The group named their village Bab al-Shams, after a novel of the same name about a Palestinian man who joined resistance movements in Lebanon, according to the statement.
After criticizing what they called "a policy of creating facts on the ground," the group declared in the statement "today, we are the ones creating facts on the ground, on our land."