Israel evacuates Palestinians from West Bank tent outpost

E1, West Bank Sun Jan 13, 2013 8:41am EST

1 of 11. Israeli border police remove a Palestinian from an outpost of tents in an area known as E1, near Jerusalem January 13, 2013. REUTER/Ammar Awad

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E1, West Bank (Reuters) - Israeli security forces evacuated about 100 Palestinians early on Sunday from tents pitched in an area of the West Bank as a protest against Israeli plans to build a settlement there.

Israel's Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Palestinian outpost, built in the geographically sensitive area known as E1, could remain for six days while the issue of the removal of the tents was being discussed.

A police spokesman said the court allowed for the removal of the protesters even if the tents, for now, will stay.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had ordered the area sealed off to prevent clashes.

"I immediately called for the area to be closed off so there would not be large gatherings there that could cause friction and breach the public order," he told Army Radio.

Hundreds of Israeli police and border guards entered the compound and told a crowd of about 100 to leave the 20 large, steel-framed tents erected on Friday.

Those protesters who refused to leave were carried down the hill by Israeli officers and detained, but were not jailed. Israeli police vans took them to the West Bank town of Ramallah, the Palestinian seat of government.

"Everyone was evacuated carefully and swiftly, without any injuries to officers or protesters," said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

MORE CAMPS PLANNED

Palestinian activists criticized the raid and promised more protest camps in areas designated by Israel for settlements.

"The eviction and the exercise of force is another indication that Israel is defying the international consensus on the need to vacate occupied Palestinian land," Palestinian government spokesman Nour Odeh said.

For years, Israel froze building in E1, which currently houses only a police headquarters, after coming under pressure from former U.S. President George W. Bush.

Netanyahu said Israel would build at E1 after the planning process was completed.

"It is a gradual process, it will take time. It will not happen immediately, you understand our bureaucratic process ... We will complete the planning an there will be building there," he told Army Radio.

Israel announced plans to expand settlements, mainly in West Bank areas around Jerusalem, after the Palestinians won de-facto recognition of statehood at the U.N. General Assembly in November.

International powers view all Jewish settlement building in areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War as detrimental to securing an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

E1 covers 4.6 square miles (12 square km) and is seen as particularly important because it not only juts into the narrow "waist" of the West Bank, but backs onto East Jerusalem.

Palestinians want to establish an independent state in the West Bank, dominated by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction, and the Gaza Strip, run by the rival Islamist group Hamas, with East Jerusalem as the 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 over the issue of Israel's continued settlement building.

(Additional reporting by Ori Lewis in Jerusalem and Noah Browning in Ramallah; editing by Andrew Roche)

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Comments (16)
rgbviews wrote:
“International powers view all Jewish settlement building in areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War as detrimental to securing an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.”

For years it has been reported that international powers view all settlement building in areas captured by Israel in the 1967 war as ILLEGAL under international law. Now we start seeing a soft “detrimental” displacing the hard “illegal”. Is this an innocent editorial error or part of an emerging campaign to legitimize the illegal?

Jan 12, 2013 11:24pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Animated wrote:
what I find funny is…it seems to be ok for Israel to settle on “disputed” ground…but the minute Palestinians settle on that same land (even in temporary tents) they are immediately removed.

Jan 12, 2013 11:53pm EST  --  Report as abuse
McBob08 wrote:
“Evacuated”? Really, Reuters? They weren’t evacuated; they were evicted from their own land by an occupying power. This isn’t some minor thing; this is an act of war. Netanyahu needs to be stopped, and ALL the ILLEGAL Israeli settlements emptied of non-Palestinians. The UN needs to take serious steps to evict Israel from the land that is not theirs; not just Palestinian land, but land that they stole from Syria and Lebanon, too. How long can we ignore Israel’s crimes against humanity? Palestinians are dying every day from the illegal blockade that keeps them from getting food, medical supplies and other essential materials. Israel has committed International Crimes, including the slaughter of innocent protesters on an unarmed ship trying to bring the Palestinians aid. And even when such endeavours agree to hand over the aid material to Israel for inspection and distribution, somehow that aid never actually arrives in the Palestinian territories.

It is audacious that the West would support such an evil nation, yet the Zionist Lobby keeps pressuring politicians to be complicit in Israel’s crimes. Even the Israeli people are turning out against the hateful, racist policies of their government, bringing into question the validity of the election that put Netanyahu into power. All this worldwide Israeli corruption needs to be stopped!

Jan 13, 2013 1:04am EST  --  Report as abuse
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