BEIRUT

Middle East

Israel orders Palestinians to quit protest outpost

  • Palestinians, together with Israeli and foreign activists, stand near newly-erected tents in an area known as E1 and in the background the Israeli settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim is seen, near Jerusalem, Friday, Jan 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

ZAIM, Palestinian Territories: The Israeli occupation administration gave Palestinian activists an ultimatum Saturday to quit a protest camp in part of the West Bank where Israel has vowed to build new settler homes, an organiser told AFP.

But hours after the deadline passed, there was no sign of any Israeli move to evict the protesters and even more joined them as Palestinian politicians visited in a show of support, an AFP correspondent reported.

More than 200 activists erected the 20-tent "outpost" on Friday in the sensitive West Bank corridor east of Jerusalem where Palestinians say Israeli settlement construction would destroy the prospects of territorial contiguity for their promised state.

They modelled their action on the wildcat outposts set up by Jewish settler activists on Palestinian land in a bid to force the government's hand into authorising settlement activity.

"Members of the Israeli Civil (military) Administration told us this morning that we have one hour to evacuate the site," one of the organisers, Abir Copty, told AFP.

"We have no intention of leaving of our own accord," she said, adding that the Israeli authorities had declared the area a "closed military zone" and demanded that the activists leave, but had made no demand for the tents to be taken down.

The Israeli military administration had issued previous expulsion orders against the activists but late on Friday they successfully petitioned the Israeli supreme court for the orders to be frozen.

Late on Saturday morning, Israeli security forces were deployed near the camp and a police helicopter hovered overhead, an AFP correspondent reported.

But more than 50 more activists managed to reach the camp from the West Bank city of Ramallah to join the activists and others were trying to do so from the city of Hebron, organisers said on Twitter.

Palestinian politicians, including member of parliament Mustafa Barghuti, also made solidarity visits to the protest camp, where activists were recovering from a freezing night under canvas amid the cold snap gripping the Middle East.

The protest outpost, dubbed Bab al-Shams (Gate of the Sun in Arabic), was welcomed on Friday by a senior Palestinian official who described it as a "highly creative and legitimate non-violent" way of protecting Palestinian land from Israeli settlement activity.

The camp lies between annexed Arab east Jerusalem and the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim.

The international community regards all Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land as illegal. The Israeli government makes a distinction between those which it has authorised and those it has not, and sometimes clears the latter.

 
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