and police forces evacuated some 150 Palestinians from the Bab al-Shams outpost
in area E1
early on Sunday morning.
The Palestinians were placed on buses and taken to the Qalandiya
checkpoint. Palestinian National Initiative director Mustafa Barghouti was arrested during the eviction as well as at least one other person, according to the Palestinians.
Earlier, the Shai District Police said that the eviction was part of efforts to implement the closed military zone order. "We intend to carry out the eviction without the use of force," a police statement said, "but we shall act with determination against anyone who partakes in riots and jeopardizes the security forces."
Palestinian sources said that the outpost's inhabitants sat on the ground as an act of passive resistance when the forces arrived at Bab al-Shams.
Forces evict Palestinians (Photo: Reuters)
There were no indications of violent resistance and no injuries were reported during the incident.
"Thousands of Israeli officers surrounded the tents and arrested the inhabitants one by one," Barghouti told the French news agency. However, police stressed that the Palestinians were "escorted out of the area" and were not arrested for violating the closed military zone order.
Palestinians after arriving at Qalandiya
The IDF spokesman ordered officers to prevent journalists from entering the outpost as per the cabinet's orders. However, Arab and Palestinian journalists were allowed to get close to the outpost prior to the eviction.
Palestinian cleared from outpost (Photo: Reuters)
Forces after the eviction (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
"An urgent evacuation is required due to a pressing security need," the State said in a petition filed with the High Court of Justice late on Saturday.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said in the document that the State has issued orders to define the outpost as a closed military zone and to remove squatters from its land.
Palestinian leader Mustafa Barghouti: This is stolen land (Photo: Reuters)
Weinstein argued that the encampment was set up in order to provoke riots "of national and international consequence," citing up-to-date intelligence information.
According to the petition, most of the tents have been pitched on the State's lands, and allowing the protesters to stay where they are will create friction with settlers and could trigger widespread unrest.
The State "indents to act urgently to fulfill the right to evacuate everyone from the area," Weinstein wrote. The State will then examine whether the law requires the tents to remain or be removed.
Bab al-Shams on Saturday night (Photo: AFP)
The document was filed in response to a temporary injunction issued by the High Court in order to bar the State from removing the protesters from the outpost as long as there isn't an emergency warranting an evacuation. In the meantime, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
ordered the routes leading up to the outpost to be closed to traffic, rendering the area a closed military zone.
A group of 200 Palestinians, backed by foreign activists, created the encampment, whose name means "Gate of the Sun," near Ma'aleh Adumim on Friday, setting into motion a series of legal exchanges between the Palestinians' representatives and the State.
The outpost (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
On Saturday, the government ordered the leaders of Bab al-Shams to immediately vacate the premises.
The outpost's leaders then petitioned the High Court to block the warrant, claiming that the encampment was set up on their own private land and it is part of the village of At-Tur, where they reside. The tents, they claimed, where meant to act as a tourist center spotlighting Bedouin heritage. The decision to evict them went against zoning laws because it did not give them a chance to voice their arguments, they said.
The leaders said that if Israeli security forces were to make them leave, they would do so with only passive resistance.
Mahmoud Zawara, of the Popular Palestinian Committees, told Ynet that the 30-tent outpost was set up as part of the "Palestinian struggle" against Israel's planned construction in the area.
Aviel Magnezi, Itamar Fleishman and Elior Levy contributed to this report