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Palestinians pitch tents in area Israel plans to develop

January 11, 2013|By Maher Abukhater
  • Palestinians set up a tent village that they called Bab al-Shams, or Gate to the Sun, on Friday east of Jerusalem in an attempt to prevent Israeli development of the area.
Palestinians set up a tent village that they called Bab al-Shams, or Gate… (Jim Hollander / European…)

JERUSALEM — About 250 Palestinian activists set up dozens of tents Friday on a large plot of land east of Jerusalem that Israel has designated as the site of a new settlement.

The Palestinians hope the tent village — called Bab al-Shams, or Gate to the Sun — will prevent Israel from going forward with the E1 project, said a spokesman for the group, Abdullah abu Rahmeh.

Israel plans to build thousands of housing units as part of the project, which Palestinians and much of the international community have condemned as a step that could disrupt travel between the northern and southern portions of the West Bank and make it more difficult for the Palestinians to create a cohesive state.

The activists, who also included Bedouin residents of the area, set up their tents early Friday without Israeli permission.

Israeli soldiers arrived a short time later and ordered the activists to dismantle their tents and leave. However, the Palestinians obtained an Israeli court order allowing them to stay there for six days.

The Palestinians said in a statement that they set up the tent village “because this is our land and it is our right to inhabit it.”

"We will not remain silent as [Israeli] settlement expansion and confiscation of our land continues.”

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