Palestinian activists create a new village, Al Manatir, on private Palestinian land near the West Bank village of Burin threatened by nearby Israeli settlements. Israeli forces violently evacuate the area, resulting in arrests and injuries.
Text and photos by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org
In the early morning hours of Saturday, February 2, Palestinian activists erected a new protest village in the spirit of Bab Al-Shams on a hilltop overlooking the West Bank village of Burin. Named Al Manatir, the new village’s location was selected to protest the expansion of nearby Israeli settlements and the violence and harassment Burin’s residents frequently face from settlers.
Hundreds of Burin’s residents, together with Palestinian activists from across Palestine, established a new makeshift neighborhood of huts and tents in the village today, on lands threatened by confiscation by the adjacent Jewish-only settlement of Har Brakha. The new neighborhood is named Al-Manatir, after the traditional stone huts Palstinians built in their agricultural lands, which were used as shelter for the watchmen of the fields. In recent years, the village of Buring has suffered from frequent Settler attacks, launched from both the Har Brakha and the Yitzhar settlements. Activists stress that their main goal is to sustain presence on the land, as means of protecting it from confiscation and establishing the rights of Burin’s residents to their land. Shortly after the structures were established, groups of settlers from Har Brakha started to convene in the area and attack the Palestinians by throwing stones at them.
The Israeli military soon arrived on the scene, and though they separated settlers from Palestinians, they proceeded to violently eject Palestinians from the newly created village – despite the fact that it was created on Palestinian land belonging to the inhabitants of Burin. Though soldiers stood idly by as settlers carried away several of Al Manatir’s shelters, the military attacked Palestinian activists with tear gas, sound grenades and pepper spray. Several Palestinians were violently arrested for resisting the evacuation, and many required medical treatment for tear-gas inhalation and other injuries while fleeing from the rocky hilltop.
As activists and local residents returned to Burin, the Israeli military invaded the town, occupied its main streets, and fired tear gas for several hours as residents responded by throwing stones. The military also fired several volleys of live ammunition, and according to some reports, one resident was struck in the leg. Several residents of the town, including small children, were evacuated by ambulance and treated for tear-gas inhalation after their homes were engulfed in the fumes.
Haggai Matar provides further background on the context for this protest action:
This is the third Palestinian outpost to be set up in past month, the first being Bab Alshams (Gate of the Sun) in the E1 area, which gained both local and international attention until it was forcefully brought down, and the second being Bab Al-Karame (Gate of Dignity) in Beit Iqsa, which was also taken down by the army. Gaining more and more international support since the UN bid on November 29, 2012, Palestinians are expected to continue carrying out unarmed and non-violent protests such as these, highlighting Israel’s racist policies that differentiate in its attitude to Jewish illegal outposts on Palestinian land and Palestinian outposts on their own land.