JERUSALEM – A large Israeli police force Sunday dismantled protest tents that Palestinian activists had set up on a hill east of Jerusalem and forcefully removed some 50 activists from the area.
The activists pitched the tents on the first day of President Obama’s visit to Israel and the West Bank. The encampment was near an area known as E1, where Israel plans to build a new Jewish settlement.
The tent village was the second that activists had set up in the area to protest the planned settlement. The first one, set up two months ago, was named Bab Shams. Police removed it by force.
Abdullah Abu Rahmeh, one of the activists, said they refused to heed police orders to leave the area, which police had declared Friday as a closed military zone.
Police then used force to remove them and escorted them one by one to a bus, which took them to a checkpoint separating Jerusalem from the West Bank and ordered them to cross.
Police arrested four people, including Palestinian lawmaker and activist Mustafa Barghouti, and held them for several hours at the nearby Ma’ale Adumim settlement.
Barghouti said after his release that protesters plan to return to the area and set up new tents.
A police spokeswoman said the land that the tents were on was “state land.” She described the tent village, which the activists named “Younis’ Grandchildren,” as “an illegal outpost.”