Yesterday, Friday 11 January 2013, Palestinian activists sought to protect land under threat from Israeli settlements. Coordinated by the Palestinian Grassroots Anti Apartheid Wall And Settlements Campaign (Stop the Wall) and Popular Committees against the Wall, around 250 activists from all over the West Bank set up a village of 25 protest tents in the E1 Area close to East Jerusalem.
In December, Israel announced a plan to construct an additional 3,000 illegal settlement units in the E1 area, and spend around 200 million NIS (almost 54 million USD) on infrastructure for the settlement. In this area Ma’ale Adumim settlement has already expropriated vast tracks of Palestinian land, and led to the displacement of Palestinian communities. This construction threatens to sever Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank leading to increasing fragmentation and isolation of Palestinian communities and as such has received wide-spread international condemnation.
It is expected that the total area of land confiscation in favor of the E-1 settlements will be nearly 13 square kilometers, located in " Al-Zanbeh " area where a large number of Bedouin communities, such as Arabs Sawahra and Jahalin are living. All land in this area is owned by Jerusalem neighborhoods of Al-Aizaryah (Bethany), Abu-des, Anata, and Issawiya.
Activists named their tent city “Bab Al-Shams” or “Gate of the Sun” inspired by the novel by Lebanese author Elias Khoury which tells the story of the Palestinian Nakba “catastrophe” and the life of refugees in exile.The Land were Bab Al-Shams has been established is called “Al-Zanbeh” area. It is located on a hill top over looking the E1 area and has been used by a Bedouin community of 15 families (around 200 people) for 80 years. This community has been under threat of expulsion since the 1990s.
One activist said that the "Gate of the Sun is our door to liberty and steadfastness, and the Gate of the Sun is our door to Jerusalem and to return."