PHOTOS: 48 hours in the West Bank protest village of Bab Al-Shams
On the morning of Friday, January 11, Palestinian activists from the various Popular Struggle Committees established a tent camp on a hilltop in an area east of the West Bank known as E1, calling it the Bab Al-Shams (Gate of the Sun) village.
The land in E1 has been slated for development by Israeli authorities in order to link the Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem with that of Ma’ale Adumim, effectively cutting the West Bank into two and denying territorial contiguity to any hypothetical Palestinian state.
The activists provided historical evidence that Bab Al-Shams was established in an area originally belonging to the nearby al-Tur village, and that the land was privately owned by Palestinians who gave their consent to building the village.
The activists at Bab Al-Shams immediately gained both widespread international support and an ambiguous Israeli High Court statement, which granted the tents a six-day delay of any eviction. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the site to be evacuated immediately by police, under the pretext that while the tents could stay, the activists had to leave.
In the early hours of Sunday the 13th, Bab Al-Shams was attacked by large numbers of Israeli security forces who loaded the activists on buses to be taken off the site. Many international and Israeli media outlets were prevented from covering the eviction, and at least six activists suffered injuries and were taken to the hospital.
Notwithstanding the harsh and immediate response by the Israeli authorities, Bab Al-Shams was a powerful reaffirmation of the right to and the necessity of maintaining a Palestinian presence in the E1 zone, and remains an inspiration for all those who seek to challenge the Israeli occupation directly.