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Friday, January 18, 2013

Palestinians Rally Support Online for West Bank Protest Camp

About 200 Palestinian activists set up camp, and a Twitter feed, on Friday in a part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank just east of Jerusalem known as E1, where Israel plans to build homes for thousands of new settlers. The activists described their encampment as the start of “a new Palestinian village named Bab al-Shams,” Arabic for “Gate of the Sun,” after a book by the Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury.

As my colleague Isabel Kershner reports from Jerusalem, Israeli military authorities served the protesters an eviction notice, but the activists said they had preempted that action with an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court for a delay and would be allowed to stay for at least six days.

The protesters openly acknowledged that they were copying the successful tactics of Israeli settlers, who have helped to expand existing settlements in the West Bank by setting up small outposts without permission and then resisting the efforts of the occupation authorities to evict them.

In a statement, the grass-roots Palestinian Popular Struggle Coordination Committee said: “For decades, Israel has established facts on the ground as the international community remained silent in response to these violations. The time has come now to change the rules of the game, for us to establish facts on the ground â€" our own land.”

The construction of the tent camp was broadcast on social networks, in the form of photographs and text updates from activists at the site.

!   E1 Palestinian camp, West Bank, 11.1.2013

Before long, the protest encampment had electricity, enabling the activists to charge their phones and continue posting updates about their protest on the new @Bab_Alshams Twitter feed and a dedicated Facebook page.