PHOTOS: Ein Hijleh village evicted after seven days of protest

One week ago, some 300 Palestinian activists established the protest village of ‘Ein Hijleh’ in a cluster of palm trees and long-abandoned houses north of the Dead Sea. Their goal was to protest Israeli government demands to retain control of the Jordan Valley as part of a U.S.-brokered peace deal. One week later, their encampment was forcibly evicted by Israeli forces in the early morning hours.

Photos by: Hamde Abu Rahma, Keren Manor, Ryan Rodrick Beiler and Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Palestinians shout slogans in the in Ein Hijleh protest village, in the Jordan Valley, West Bank January 31, 2014. Over 300 Palestinians participated in the action, as part of Melh Al-Ard (Salt of the Earth) campaign against the Israeli plans to annex the Jordan valley, discussed during the current round of negotiation-talks between the PA and Israel, coordinated by John Kerry.
Palestinians shout slogans in the in Ein Hijleh protest village, in the Jordan Valley, West Bank January 31, 2014. Over 300 Palestinians participated in the action, as part of Melh Al-Ard (Salt of the Earth) campaign against the Israeli plans to annex the Jordan valley, discussed during the current round of negotiation-talks between the PA and Israel, coordinated by John Kerry.

In the face of pledges by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would not “uproot any Israeli citizen” from the West Bank and his insistence on retaining control of the Jordan Valley amid talks brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, on January 31, hundreds of Palestinian activists began to occupy abandoned homes in a cluster of palm trees surrounded by land taken by Israeli settlers and military bases north of the Dead Sea.

The Ein Hijleh protest village was thus created, launching the Melh al-Ard (Salt of the Earth) campaign, organized by the Palestinian Popular Struggle Coordination Committee with the aim of “refusing the political status quo, especially given futile negotiations destroying the rights of our people for liberation and claim to their land.”

An Israeli military base sits between the protest village and the Deir Hijleh monastery, which owns about 1,000 dunams, some of which were taken by Israeli forces. Ein Hijleh itself stood on land owned by the Greek Orthodox Church, which granted permission for the activists to remain there for at least 30 days.

During the seven days of the encampment, activists began to make the crumbling houses inhabitable, planted trees, installed solar panels, hosted political, religious and diplomatic leaders, screened films and held cultural and political discussions.

But in the early morning hours of Friday, February 7, one week after the village was re-established, hundreds of Israeli forces descended on the remaining activists. Dozens were arrested and as many as 41 were injured according to reports that emerged from the early morning chaos.

Lasting seven days, Ein Hijleh was by far the longest standing of similar protest camps established since early 2013, including Bab al-Shams in the E1 area near Jerusalem, to protest the Israeli settlements in that key location. Other protest camps were the short-lived Al-Manatir near a settlement outpost overlooking the West Bank village of Burin, and the Ahfad Younis neighborhood of Bab al-Shams, timed to protest a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama. Several smaller actions in the Bethlehem area and south Hebron Hills were dismantled almost immediately, sometimes resulting in arrests and injuries for the activists.

Protest leaders have already vowed to return to Ein Hijleh, as well as to continue establishing new villages as part of the ‘Melh al-Ard’ campaign.

Palestinians work to clean and restore long-abandoned houses in the Ein Hijleh protest village, in the Jordan Valley, West Bank January 31, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)
Palestinians work to clean and restore long-abandoned houses in the Ein Hijleh protest village, in the Jordan Valley, West Bank January 31, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

Palestinian activists work to clean an area in the Ein Hijleh protest village, in the Jordan Valley, West Bank January 31, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)
Palestinian activists work to clean an area in the Ein Hijleh protest village, in the Jordan Valley, West Bank January 31, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

Palestinian activists play volleyball as Israeli soldiers patrol nearby in the Ein Hijleh protest village, in the Jordan Valley, West Bank January 31, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)
Palestinian activists play volleyball as Israeli soldiers patrol nearby in the Ein Hijleh protest village, in the Jordan Valley, West Bank January 31, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

Palestinian activists bake flatbread over an open fire in Ein Hijleh protest village, January 31, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)
Palestinian activists bake flatbread over an open fire in Ein Hijleh protest village, January 31, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

A Palestinian rests in the in the Ein Hijleh protest village, in the Jordan Valley, West Bank January 31, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)
A Palestinian rests in the in the Ein Hijleh protest village, in the Jordan Valley, West Bank January 31, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

Palestinian activists gather around a fire in the Ein Hijleh protest village, in the Jordan Valley, West Bank February 1, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)
Palestinian activists gather around a fire in the Ein Hijleh protest village, in the Jordan Valley, West Bank February 1, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

Due to Israeli army roadblocks to stop cars from entering, Palestinians on horseback help deliver supplies to the Ein Hijleh protest village, Jordan Valley, West Bank, February 3, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)
Due to Israeli army roadblocks to stop cars from entering, Palestinians on horseback help deliver supplies to the Ein Hijleh protest village, Jordan Valley, West Bank, February 3, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

Palestinians use palm branches to keep plastic sheeting in place during high winds in the protest village of Ein Hijleh, Jordan Valley, West Bank, February 3, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)
Palestinians use palm branches to keep plastic sheeting in place during high winds in the protest village of Ein Hijleh, Jordan Valley, West Bank, February 3, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

Israeli soldiers patrol in the Ein Hijleh protest camp, Jordan Valley, West Bank, February 5, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)
Israeli soldiers patrol in the Ein Hijleh protest camp, Jordan Valley, West Bank, February 5, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

A Palestinian youth plant trees in the Jordan Valley protest village of Ein Hijleh, West Bank, February 6, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)
A Palestinian youth plant trees in the Jordan Valley protest village of Ein Hijleh, West Bank, February 6, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

Activist leader Abdallah Abu Rahmah, whose arm was injured in clashes with Israeli forces two days prior, sits next to Palestinian Agriculture Minister Waleed Assaf during a visit by a VIP delegation to the Jordan Valley protest village of Ein Hijleh, West Bank, February 6, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)
Activist leader Abdallah Abu Rahmah, whose arm was injured in clashes with Israeli forces two days prior, sits next to Palestinian Agriculture Minister Waleed Assaf during a visit by a VIP delegation to the Jordan Valley protest village of Ein Hijleh, West Bank, February 6, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

Palestinians deliver solar panels to the Jordan Valley protest village of Ein Hijleh, West Bank, February 6, 2014. The panels were donated by the Applied Research Institute, Jerusalem (ARIJ) a Palestinian NGO. (photo: Activestills.org)
Palestinians deliver solar panels to the Jordan Valley protest village of Ein Hijleh, West Bank, February 6, 2014. The panels were donated by the Applied Research Institute, Jerusalem (ARIJ) a Palestinian NGO. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

Palestinians rest in their tent in the Jordan Valley protest village of Ein Hijleh, West Bank, February 6, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)
Palestinians rest in their tent in the Jordan Valley protest village of Ein Hijleh, West Bank, February 6, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

Israeli army and police raid and evict the Ein Hijleh protest camp in the early morning hours of February 7, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)
Israeli army and police raid and evict the Ein Hijleh protest camp in the early morning hours of February 7, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian activist as they raid and evict the Ein Hijleh protest camp, February 7, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)
Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian activist as they raid and evict the Ein Hijleh protest camp, February 7, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

Israeli army bulldozers clear an area in the Ein Hijleh protest village after the Israeli soldiers and police evicted the village, located in the Jordan Valley, West Bank, in the early hours of February 7, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)
Israeli army bulldozers clear an area in the Ein Hijleh protest village after the Israeli soldiers and police evicted the village, located in the Jordan Valley, West Bank, in the early hours of February 7, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)