Israel removes encampment outside East Jerusalem

Friday 18 January 2013 13.12
Israeli border policemen guard the Bab al-Shams (Gate of the Sun) 'outpost' after evicting Palestinian protesters from the site
Israeli border policemen guard the Bab al-Shams (Gate of the Sun) 'outpost' after evicting Palestinian protesters from the site

Israeli forces have removed Palestinian protest tents from land earmarked for Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, having evicted activists from the encampment earlier this week.

"The area was cleared of all tents," said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. "There were no disturbances."

On Sunday, police moved 50 protesters from the so-called 'E1' area outside the Arab suburbs of East Jerusalem, where planned Israeli settlements could split much of the West Bank.

The activists' large, steel-framed tents had remained standing in accordance with an Israeli court order while judges considered a Palestinian claim of ownership of land where the encampment, dubbed "Bab al-Shams", was built.

The Supreme Court approved removal of the tents on Wednesday, agreeing with the government's argument that they could be a magnet for violent Palestinian protests.

That ruling was decried by activists who describe Bab al-Shams as a non-violent implementation of Palestinian rights.

Most countries view Jewish settlements in areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war as illegal and echo concerns voiced by Palestinians that building more settler homes could deny them a viable and contiguous state.

E1 covers 12 square kilometres and is considered particularly important because it not only juts into the narrow "waist" of the West Bank, but also backs onto East Jerusalem, where Palestinians want to establish their capital.

About 500,000 Israelis and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2010.

Keywords: israel, palestine