Israel Tears Down Anti-occupation Encampment Set Up by North American Jews and Palestinians in West Bank

Activists erected the tents in the South Hebron Hills a week ago to mark the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation; one Canadian has been detained

Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz
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Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz

Israeli soldiers on Thursday morning tore down the last remains of an encampment set up by American and Canadian Jewish anti-occupation activists on the site of a former Palestinian village in the West Bank. At least one person, a Canadian, has been detained.

The encampment, which originally included four tents, was established in Sarura on the South Hebron Hills a week ago to mark the 50th anniversary of the occupation.

The activists set up the tents on the site of the hamlet of Sarura, which was evacuated 20 years ago after settler violence and a crackdown by the Israeli army. The activists called their encampment the Sumud Freedom Camp.

On Sunday, the army tore down three of the tents and confiscated the generator the activists had brought to the site. On Thursday morning, they tore down the last remaining tent.

Isaac Kates Rose, a Canadian-born organizer for the Center for Jewish Nonviolence, was detained Thursday morning after trying to stop soldiers from tearing down the encampment.

Originally from Toronto, the 25-year-old activist has been living in Israel for the past few years and serves as the Jerusalem organizer for the center. He is the first person detained by the Israel Defense Forces since the encampment was set up.

Anti-occupation activists in one of the tents they set up on the site of a former Palestinian village in the South Hebron Hills, May 24, 2017.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

During the confrontation with the army on Thursday morning, an ambulance was called to provide medical treatment to Fadel Amer, a local Palestinian whose family once lived in the hamlet and who has been hosting the activists there. It was not immediately clear why he was in need of treatment.

The initiative was organized by a collaboration of Jewish, Israeli and Palestinian anti-occupation groups comprised of the Center for Jewish Nonviolence, All That’s Left: Anti-Occupation Collective, Youth Against Settlements, Holy Land Trust and Combatants for Peace.

Activists said the soldiers did not present them with any written teardown orders.

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