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'Gate of Dignity' Protest Village Demolished by Israeli Forces

Activists pledge to rebuild

Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem January 20, 2013. (Reuters/Gali Tibbon)

Israeli forces demolished a Palestinian protest village in Northwest Jerusalem early Monday, evicting the Palestinian activists who had built the site in protest of Israeli land confiscation and the illegal occupation of Palestine.

"The demolition of Bab al-Karamah does not mean the end of our stand. Activists will again occupy the site on which the village was built and they will rebuild their tents when the opportunity arises," activist Nabil Hababa stated.

Bab al-Karamah, Arabic for Gate of Dignity, included 20 inhabitants, four tents and a building under construction. Activists began building the site Friday in protest of Israel's plans to confiscate at least 124 acres of land near the village of Beit Iksa, which is currently surrounded by Jewish settlements. Should Israel's plans go forth, Beit Iksa will soon be completely surrounded by Israel's separation wall, cutting it off from the rest of Jerusalem.

When completed, the wall will annex 96 percent of Beit Iksa's land, Ma'an News reports Monday.

On Sunday night, the Israeli army issued "invasion removal orders" of the site.

By early Monday morning, large numbers of Israeli troops escorted bulldozers to the protest village, Al-Karamah (Dignity), in Beit Iksa. The troops demolished all the tents and evacuated roughly 20 activists, the head of the local council of Beit Iksa, Kamal Hababa, told Ma’an.

The camp was the second in two weeks to be demolished by Israeli forces. Earlier, Israeli forces raided and forcefully evicted Palestinian and other multinational activists from a similar protest camp in the E-1 corridor of the West Bank—similarly, an area slated for Israeli expansion. The Palestinian activists had also declared the space a newly founded Palestinian village, Bab Al Shams (Gate of the Sun).

The IDF raid in that instance resulted in several protester injuries, reports of police brutality,  and the eviction of 150 inhabitants.

Reuters adds:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, widely predicted to win a third term in an election on Tuesday, has pledged to pursue settlement building in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, occupied land that Israel has annexed in a move not recognized internationally. [...]

Netanyahu announced plans late last year to expand settlements after Palestinians won de-facto statehood recognition at the United Nations General Assembly.

"The days of bulldozers uprooting Jews are behind us, not ahead of us," Netanyahu said in a recent interview with Maariv newspaper, referring to past efforts to remove illegal Jewish outposts throughout the West Bank.

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