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Middle East

Israel forcibly evacuates 'tent city'

Israeli police have released several activists who were detained after setting up a camp to protest illegal settlements.
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2013 05:36

Israel forces have forcefully evicted Palestinian and other multi-national activists from a hilltop protest camp they set up in a West Bank area slated for Jewish settlement.

Several activists were detained during Sunday morning eviction, including Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, Al Jazeera’s correspondent, reporting from Jerusalem, said.

Al Jazeera's Jane Ferguson, reporting from Jerusalem, said the activists who were detained were driven to Qalandiya checkpoint and then released.

"We also heard from medical sources that four people were admitted to hospital in Ramallah with injuries, but none serious."

"The media has no more access to the site, so we are not sure if the Israeli police are in the process of dismantling the tents."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office ordered the move after asking the Supreme Court to lift a stay of evacuation.

Palestinian activists erected tents in the area known as E-1 on Friday, saying they wanted to "establish facts on the ground" to stop Israeli construction in the West Bank.

Paleatinian politician Mustafa Barghouthi speaks to Al Jazeera

The activists were borrowing a phrase and a tactic, usually associated with Jewish settlers, who believe establishing communities means the territory will remain Israeli.

Activists said they wanted to establish a village in the site, which they are calling Bab Al Shams.

Netanyahu's office said on Saturday night that the state was petitioning the Supreme Court to rescind an earlier injunction blocking the evacuation. In the meantime, he ordered the area declared a closed military zone and shut off access.

The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Palestinian outpost could remain for six days while the issue of its removal was being discussed.

Israel announced it was moving forward with the E-1 settlement after the UN recognised a de facto state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in November.

Palestinians say E-1 would be a major blow to their statehood aspirations as it blocks East Jerusalem from its West Bank hinterland. Palestinians are demanding these areas, along with Gaza, for their future state.

The construction plans drew unusually sharp criticism from some of Israel's staunchest allies including the US who strongly oppose the E- 1 project.

Israeli officials have said actual construction on the project may be years away if it ever gets off the ground, while Israeli critics have questioned whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu actually intends to develop E-1, or is pandering to hard-liners ahead of Israel's January 22 election. 

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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