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Palestinians Forge New Village in Protest of Israeli Expansion

Days after 'Gate of the Sun' eviction, activists build 'Gate of Dignity' for 'a life without checkpoints, walls and settlements'

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Night at Bab Al-Karamah. (International Solidarity Movement / Abir Kopty)Palestinian activists began constructing a new village in the West Bank on Friday in protest of the illegal Israeli occupation in Palestine and ongoing land grabs by Israeli settlers in the area.

The protesters said they were re-establishing Palestinian land in opposition to Israel—saying they have so far set up a mosque and several tents near the village of Beit Iksa near Jerusalem and have begun work on a permanent structure.

Locals said roughly 400 Palestinians gathered for Friday prayers in the open area.

The activists said the Israeli army recently announced a plan to take over roughly 124 acres of land in the area, which is located on the northwestern outskirts of Jerusalem, an area that is already riddled with Jewish settlements.

Saed Yakrina, an activist from Beit Iksa, told Ma'an News Agency the camp was "a message to Israel and all democratic societies that we are human, and we want peace."

"We are looking for a life without checkpoints, walls and settlements," he said.

"We pitched two tents and began building a new structure using concrete and stones in an area in Beit Iksa which Israel wants to take for settlement," Said Yaqine told Agence France-Presse.

"This action is not limited to today but will go on for several days, to declare our refusal of the Israeli decision to take the land," he said.

The group said they were naming the new village extension Bab Al-Karamah, Arabic for 'Gate of Dignity'.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli army said Israeli soldiers have been "deployed in order to maintain the security in the area."

The protest comes days after Israeli forces raided and forcefully evicted Palestinian and other multi-national activists from a similar hilltop protest camp in the E-1 corridor of the West Bank—similarly, an area slated for Israeli settlers. The Palestinian activists had also declared the space a newly founded Palestinian village, Bab Al Shams (Gate of the Sun).

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the raid, which resulted in several protester injuries, reports of police brutality,  and the eviction of the 150 inhabitants.

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