Israel eviction for tent protesters
Published 13/01/2013 | 09:12
Palestinian protesters who pitched tents at a strategic West Bank site to protest plans to build a Jewish housing project there have been evicted.
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.
The Palestinian activists were borrowing a phrase and a tactic, usually associated with Jewish settlers, who believe establishing communities means the territory will remain theirs once structures are built.
Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police evicted about 100 protesters from the site after a court decision authorising their removal.
Rosenfeld said no arrests were made during the half hour operation and that no injuries were sustained on either side.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered roads closed leading to the area and had the military declare a closed military zone and shut off access. Netanyahu's office said that the state was petitioning the Supreme Court to rescind an earlier injunction blocking the evacuation.
Israel announced it is 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.
Activists said they wanted to build a village called Bab al-Shams at the site. 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.