So when Israel says it doesn’t do ethnic cleansing, point to Bab Al Shams

Israeli military forces have forcefully evicted hundreds of Palestinians and activists from the village of Bab Al Shams, erected yesterday in the occupied West Bank in an area Israel calls “E-1”.

Israel has announced plans to build thousands of settlement units in the E-1 stretch of land in the West Bank in violation of international law. Palestinian and multi-national activists established the village to challenge Israel’s colonization of Palestinian land and to “establish facts on the ground”, playing on the common phrase used by settlers and Israeli officials to attempt to justify illegal construction in the West Bank.

More than 200 Palestinians established the village of Bab Al Shams and dozens more joined them in building the tent city. Israel is reported to have just completed a full “evacuation” of the village.

Close friend and activist Abbas Sarsour, founder of the popular page The Road to Palestine, was among the dozens arrested and the hundreds forcefully evicted. According to various accounts, over 500 armed Israeli military units surrounded Bab Al Shams, vastly outnumbering the unarmed protesters and Palestinian activists.

The great irony in all of this is that Israel denies that it engages in ethnic cleansing or that it violates international law. By defining the West Bank as disputed whenever it sees fit, it continues to colonize large swaths of Palestinian land. Its latest strategy has been to isolate Jerusalem from the remainder of the West Bank by constructing large settlement complexes to the northeast in the E-1 region named after former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s plan to prevent Palestinians from accessing Jerusalem.

At Bab Al Shams, where the village residents have announced their return following release from Israeli military custody, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the eviction despite the High Court’s injunction temporarily preventing the expulsion pending further investigation. A Haaretz investigation reveals that the village is almost entirely built on private Palestinian land. The remainder of the village is still within the occupied West Bank.

So when Israel says it doesn’t do ethnic cleansing, add Bab Al Shams to the list of proof to the contrary.

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