One week after Bab al-Shams, Palestinians establish new village

Al-Akhbar is currently going through a transitional phase whereby the English website is available for Archival purposes only. All new content will be published in Arabic on the main website (www.al-akhbar.com).

Al-Akhbar Management

Published Friday, January 18, 2013

Nearly 400 Palestinian activists have set up a tent village on land slated for military expropriation near East Jerusalem, according to Palestine's Ma'an news agency and activists interviewed by Al-Akhbar.

The village of al-Karamah, inaugurated by weekly prayers Friday, was set up to retaliate against an Israeli military announcement that more than 500 dunams of land would be seized from the nearby village of Beit Iksa.

The move would prevent any new construction in a village already struggling with land shortages, an activist in al-Karamah named Sa'eed said.

Beit Iksa, classified as jointly-controlled by the Palestinian Authority and Israel, is sandwiched between three illegal Israeli settlements: Givat Shaul (built over Deir Yassin), Ramot and Har Samuel. The latter two have extracted several dunams from the village.

Israel's 700 kilometer apartheid wall, which snakes through the occupied West Bank, has all but cut off the village from the outside world since the barrier was first built in 2002.

Israeli forces are reported to have closed a checkpoint at Beit Iksa to prevent Palestinians from entering al-Karamah. Activists have erected two large tents and are building a cement house.

Local and civil society representatives gathering in al-Karamah called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to list al-Karamah as an official East Jerusalem village.

Abbas's Palestinian Liberation Organization is supporting the initiative, according to activists.

Two days ago, Israeli forces razed the tent village of Bab al-Shams, established last Friday in al-Tour, which lies on land referred to as E1 by Israel. The Israeli military defied a High Court ruling allowing people to stay in Bab al-Shams for nearly one week before applying for a permit.

E1 is an area that lies between Jerusalem and Israel's largest settlement, Maaleh Adumim.

Last November, Israel announced plans to build 4,000 Jewish-only units in the area, creating a continuous stretch of Israeli settlement from Jerusalem to the Maaleh Adumim and further severing Palestinian access to their capital.

The aim of Bab al-Shams and Al-Karamah was to create facts on the ground, mirroring tactics of Jewish settlers in an effort to reclaim their land and prevent Israel from expanding illegal settlements.

(Al-Akhbar, Ma'an)

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