Israeli forces surround new ‘village’

Israeli forces on March 20 surrounded a new tent village erected by Palestinian activists in Eizariya east of Jerusalem. An Israeli military spokeswoman said hundreds of Palestinians established “an illegal settlement” and that security forces were in the area “to maintain order.” She said soldiers arrested the driver of a truck loaded with equipment including tents. Mohammad Khatib, a spokesman for the activists, said soldiers handed protesters a document declaring the area a closed military zone. “We are staying. We are Palestinians, and we will stay here. They will have to evacuate us. They will have to use their power to do it, but we will not do it by ourselves,” Khatib told Ma’an News Agency. “We are staying here because this is Palestinian land. This is our land, and no one has a right to evacuate us.” 

As US President Barack Obama arrived in Israel, activists set up 15 tents on a hillside near the site of the Bab al-Shams protest village that Israeli forces tore down in January. They have named the new encampment Ahfad Younis, after the main character in the novel Bab al-Shams. In a statement, the activists described the initiative as “first, to claim our right as Palestinians to return to our lands and villages, second, to claim our sovereignty over our lands without permission from anyone.” The activists said it aimed to highlight their opposition to the Obama administration’s policies in the region, saying that it has been “complicit in Israeli occupation and colonialism.”

“An administration that used the veto 43 times…in support of Israel and against Palestinian rights, an administration that grants military aid to Israel of over three billion dollars annually, can’t have any positive contribution to achieve justice,” the statement said.

From Ma’an News Agency, March 30