In a move which was intended to reveal the sided policy of the Israeli army, and government, residents of Bil’in, near Ramallah, installed on Thursday a Caravan in orchards which belong to residents of the village, and posted themselves, along with peace activists there; soldiers evacuated the caravan after violently breaking into it.
Abdullah Abu Rahma, member of the popular Committee Against the Wall, informed the IMEMC that the residents and peace activists, raised the Palestinian flag on top of the caravan, and barricaded themselves there.
Soldiers arrived at the scene and demanded them to remove the Caravan and leave the area after claiming that it is a closed military zone.
“We told them that they should go and evacuate the caravans which were illegally placed by the settlers in our orchards”, Abu Rahma said, “Our caravan was installed on farmlands which we own, and was officially licensed by Bil’in village council”.
Abu Rahma said that the settlers are installing Caravans which were not licensed by the Israeli Authorities, or any other side, yet the army did not attempt to evacuate them, and ignored their illegal acts.
The Caravan was evacuated at 19:00 on Thursday, after soldiers surrounded it attempted to destroy its door. One hour later, soldiers brought a crane and opened the door violently.
Four Palestinians and three Israeli peace activists were inside the Caravan, ten activists were on its roof top, and seventy around it.
Seven Israeli peace activists were arrested; the residents who were there managed to flee the scene after the activists obstructed the soldiers.
Hundreds of residents poured to the site to support those in the caravan and clashed with the soldiers who fired teargas and flares; no injuries or arrests were reported.
Israeli Lawyer and peace activist, Michel Sfarad, told the soldiers that they managed to evacuate a peaceful legal Palestinian outpost, while “you are still unable to evacuate any of the illegal caravans and outposts placed by settlers”.
Also, Sfarad told the residents during a meeting which was held after the soldiers evacuated the outpost, that according to the Israeli law, the army has no right to construct a wall around illegal settlements and outposts, yet Israel has been always doing so and violating its own laws.
Abu Rahma said that while the Palestinian Authority is busy with elections, internal problems and conflicts, it distanced itself from what’s going on the ground.
“We appeal the international community to support us, and stop the illegal Israeli acts and violations”, he added.
“The army is currently constructing a wall and fences around Palestinian orchards, which will be filled in the future with settlements”, Abu Rahma reported.
According to Abu Rahma, several Israeli construction companies are illegally purchasing lands around the village in order to construct settlements that extend along the Green Line, which marks the Israeli borders with the West Bank.
“We will continue our protests against the Wall, settlements and illegal settlement outposts”, Abu Rahma stated, “Israel plans to expand the Modi’in Elite settlement bloc, near our village, and annex more orchards from the residents”.
The residents and peace activists plan to install a tent in place of the evacuated caravan during their weekly protest on Friday.
Mohammed Khateeb, head of the Popular Committee against the Wall, said that this outpost is a way to protest the settlers’ illegal presence and control of the Palestinian lands.
“If you look backwards, you will see 3000 apartments illegally built in the Modi’in settlement bloc”. He added, “This caravan is a joint struggle for peace, not expansion and illegal activities”.