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A Palestinian Tent Encampment to Thwart Israeli Settlement Expansion

Craig Brown, staff writer

Palestinian activists set up on January 11, 2013 an 'outpost' named Bab al-Shams ('gate of the sun') in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, between Jerusalem and the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim (background), in an area Israel said it would build thousands of new settler homes. Six weeks ago, Israel announced plans to build thousands of settler homes in the largely uninhabited E1 area, in a move which sparked a global outcry. E1 falls within Area C of the West Bank which is under full Israeli civilian and security control and where Palestinians find it almost impossible to obtain building permits. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

Hundreds of Palestinian activists set up tents Friday in the E1 corridor area near Jerusalem as part of the non-violent resistance movement against Israel's expansion of settlements.

The new village, Bab al-Shams, or 'Gate of the Sun', is being created to protest the Israeli government’s November announcement of plans to build thousands of settler homes in the disputed area, a move that will preclude the possibility of a territorially contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank.

“We have set up 20 tents, and have enough equipment to stay here for a long time,” AFP quoted Abir Kopty, spokeswoman for the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, saying.

The organizers of the new village said their actions were not symbolic. Rather, they intend to change the rules of the game and create facts on the ground that they claim as theirs.

The name of the village was inspired by Lebanese author Elias Khoury's novel, which portrays Palestinian yearnings through a metaphorical story of love for the land.

+972 magazine is reporting:

Not long after the tents were set up, Border Police and Civil Administration forces arrived at the scene and handed out eviction notices to residences of the new outpost-village, threatening to return and demolish the erected tents shortly. Prepared in advance for such an occasion, activists petitioned against the demolitions to the High Court, which then issued a warrant delaying any eviction or demolition for six days.

The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee activists released a statement about today's action:

We, the sons and daughters of Palestine from all throughout the land, announce the establishment of Bab Alshams Village. We the people, without permits from the occupation, without permission from anyone, sit here today because this is our land and it is our right to inhabit it…

We declare that the village will stand steadfast until the owners of this land will get their right to build on their land… Bab Alshams is the gate to our freedom and steadfastness. Bab Alshams is our gate to Jerusalem. Bab Alshams is the gate to our return.

For decades, Israel has established facts on the ground as the International community remained silent in response to these violations. The time has come now to change the rules of the game, for us to establish facts on the ground – our own land. This action involving women and men from the north to the south is a form of popular resistance. In the coming days we will hold various discussion groups, educational and artistic presentations, as well as film screenings on the lands of this village. The residents of Bab Alshams invite all the sons and daughters of our people to participate and join the village in supporting our resilience.

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