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article imageOp-Ed: Israel evicts Palestinians from protest camp

By Ken Hanly     Jan 13, 2013 in Politics
Jerusalem - A tent camp set up in the E-1 area east of Jerusalem, Bab a-Shams, was cleared out by 500 Israeli police and IDF officers, even though a High Court order was issued that seemed to prevent the state from evicting them for six days.
Netanyahu simply ordered Israeli security forces to clear the area of the hundreds of Palestinians and they did so. The area had already been surrounded late Saturday evening and security forces had prevented more supporters from entering. Haaretz reports that the tents were actually put up on private Palestinian land.
The Israeli government position issued near midnight Saturday and signed by the head of the Justice Ministry's High Court division, claimed that "there is an urgent security need to evacuate the area of the people and tents." There was attached a confidential intelligence assessment on the urgent security need. The state demanded evacuation of the encampment and said that the action would take place immediately.The Prime Minister's Bureau said that the state would ask the High Court to cancel the injunction to halt eviction.
Apparently Netanyahu has ordered the site to be a closed military zone. All access roads will be closed by security forces until the High Court decides on the matter. Additional people will be prevented from gathering in the area. Just what matter is the High Court to decide? Whether what is already a fait accompli will be reversed? It is about as likely that the Israeli government will declare Mordechai Vanunu a hero! According to the police, the injunction was just against the removal of the tents but not the people. Yet the removal order is for the tents to be removed as well.
Around 200 Palestinians and foreign activists pitched 20 large steel framed tents in the E-1 area to try and preserve the area for the Palestinians. Israel has announced that it plans to build 3000 new housing units in the zone.
Historically the US has opposed any plans to build in the area. Israel actually stopped construction under pressure from the Bush administration. In 2009, Israel had an understanding with the US. not to build in the E-1 zone. But last year Israel decided to build thousands more housing units. Israel claimed that the agreement with the Americans was no longer relevant since the Palestinian Authority had fundamentally violated their agreements. The EU tried to put diplomatic pressure on Israel to reverse its decision and Britain and France threatened to withdraw ambassadors in reaction. Of course Israel paid no attention. Israeli politicians do not see any need to respond to hot air. If the US cut off military and other aid that might make them sit up and listen. They knew that would not happen.
Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian activist and leader of the protest at the site said that: “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.” Perhaps the Palestinians have the right but the Israelis have the power to enforce their will.
The Civil Administration personnel who came to the site earlier had an eviction order that claimed that the area is located on state land. In response to that order, four Bedouin families who claim to own the land, asked the High Court to prevent the demolishing of the camp. The petition stated that the camp was set up to be part of a tourist attraction and would focus on the Bedouin heritage and life in that area. The state claims that the presence of the tents was a provocation. No doubt it was probably both and certainly meant as a statement that the area was not to be used for Israeli settlement.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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