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The rise and fall of Bab al-Shams
Faced with ongoing expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, Palestinians established a short-lived “protest village”.
Following the announcement that an illegal Israeli settlement bloc in the West Bank was to be extended, Palestinians decided "to create facts on the ground" by establishing a protest camp on the land likely to be annexed.
Published On 13 Jan 2013
13 Jan 2013
As the Bab al-Shams ("Gateway to the Sun") "village" was constructed on Friday, Palestinians celebrated their act of peaceful resistance with Dabke music and dancing.
The protest camp builders paused at midday on Friday to observe traditional prayers. Creating "facts on the ground(***) is borrowing a phrase from Israeli officials who say that, in any future talks about territory, the continuing presence of Israeli settlements should be taken into account, regardless of previous multilateral agreements.
Mohammad Khatib, a member of the Popular Coordination Committee of Bab al-Shams, met with Israeli officers to negotiate for the continued presence of Palestinians on the land. Later on Friday, Israel(***)s Supreme Court ruled that the Palestinian outpost could remain for six days while its removal was discussed by authorities.
The Bab al-Shams encampment in the foreground overlooks Ma(***)ale Adumim - a settlement which is home to 39,000 Israelis in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli "E1 Plan" ostensibly aims to connect Jerusalem with Ma(***)ale Adumim, but critics says it is intended to cut off Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.
Activists camped out overnight in a bid to prevent Israeli troops or settlers from destroying the camp. The United States and the European Union have historically opposed the E1 plan, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - facing a general election in less than two weeks - said the expansion would go ahead.
The brisk cold of the evening was staved off by gathering around a fire, sharing songs and stories.
A clinic for first aid was set up by the Palestinian Medical Relief Society.
As the protesters camped out in front of Israel(***)s separation wall, illuminated by floodlights, the lights of Jerusalem(***)s suburbs twinkle in the distance.
Late on Saturday night, Israeli army officials declared the area a "closed military zone" before a 500-strong contingent of security forces amassed to begin the eviction of Bab al-Shams, despite the ruling of Israel(***)s Supreme Court the previous day.
Huddling together, protesters gathered to non-violently resist being dragged away by the heavily armoured - and armed - Israeli troops.
When the Israeli security forces moved in to disperse the crowd, some were dragged away from their comrades...
...while others were physically lifted and carried away. Many were detained until late on Sunday. Activists said that six people were hurt as they were forcibly detained.
Palestinian legislator, Dr Mustafa Barghouti, the secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, was one of those detained by Israeli security forces.
As the eviction continued, protesters continued to warm themselves by small fires.
Remaining defiant, the ousted activists vowed that the protest would not be the last of its kind.