Israel dismantles E1 Palestinian outpost, activists say

Israel dismantles E1 Palestinian outpost, activists say

Move comes hours after court says security needs outweigh fact that makeshift tent village may have been set up on private land

Pro-Palestinian activists place Palestinian flags in the new outpost of Bab el-Shams (Gate of the Sun) in the area known as E1, near Jerusalem, Saturday. (photo credit: AP)
Pro-Palestinian activists place Palestinian flags in the new outpost of Bab el-Shams (Gate of the Sun) in the area known as E1, near Jerusalem, Saturday. (photo credit: AP)

Israel removed tents in an illegal Palestinian outpost Wednesday night, hours after the High Court cleared the police to tear down the makeshift West Bank village, Palestinian sources said.

Bab a-Shams had been set up by Palestinian activists in a controversial strip of land east of Jerusalem on Friday to protest Israeli settlement activity. Israel moved to tear it down on Saturday, but the move was stayed by the court after four Palestinian families claimed the tent village was set up on their land.

The court on Wednesday accepted the state’s position that the outpost threatened Israel’s security, which outweighed the fact that it may have been built on private land.

Palestinian sources, citing eyewitnesses, reported just before midnight that Israeli forces had begun dismantling the approximately two dozen tents in the outpost.

Palestinian Authority official Muhammad Zawahra, a member of the Bab a-Shams village council, told Palestinians news agency Ma’an that bulldozers began blocking roads to the area shortly after the ruling.

There was no immediate response from the Israel Police.

The outpost was cleared of its occupants early Sunday morning, after police said the court injunction only mandated that the tents be left in place. Some 100 people were moved off the land, which had been declared a closed military zone, in the half-hour police operation, with activists offering only non-violent resistance.

On Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of Palestinians and international activists attempted to march back to Bab a-Shams, where they were met by Israeli security forces who barred them from entering. Some activists reported the use of stun grenades and tear gas by the police.

Several activists were arrested.

Zawahra said activists initially managed to get by Israeli troops guarding the area by pretending to be a wedding convoy, with journalists taking part in the ruse by playing the part of wedding photographers.

The outpost is located on a sensitive corridor of land known as E1. Israel recently revived plans to develop new construction in the area, which links Jerusalem to the large settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, drawing harsh international condemnation.

Critics say settlement expansion in the corridor would make a contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank nearly impossible.

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