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Activists set up new protest village northwest of Jerusalem

Jan. 18, 2013 2:46 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 19, 2013 5:41 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian activists on Friday established a new tented protest village northwest of Jerusalem, the second such initiative against Israeli settlement building in as many weeks.

Activists set up three tents and a small building in the area near Beit Iksa, naming the village al-Karamah (Dignity).

Locals said around 400 Palestinians performed Friday prayers in the open area.

Saed Yakrina, an activist from nearby village Beit Ijza, said the camp was "a message to Israel and all democratic societies that we are human, and we want peace."

Activists from across the political spectrum, mainly from nearby villages, have gathered and will sleep in the tents overnight, he told Ma'an.

Beit Iksa, surrounded by Israeli settlements, is set to be entirely encircled by Israel's separation wall, cutting it off from Jerusalem.

Israeli authorities ordered the confiscation of 500 dunams of the village's land three weeks ago, and do not permit any new building in the town, Yakrina said, noting that Israeli settlements were still expanding.

"We are looking for a life without checkpoints, walls and settlements," he said.

Israeli forces immediately shut down the military checkpoint at the entrance to Beit Iksa to prevent more activists and supporters from accessing the protest site, witnesses said.

On Wednesday, Israeli forces tore down the tented village Bab al-Shams, set up to protest Israel's plans to build the "E1" settlement on the land, severing the West Bank from Jerusalem.

Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouthi on Friday said Bab al-Shams and al-Karama were a new dimension in the Palestinian struggle and that more protest villages would be established.

"The spirit of popular resistance which Bab al-Shams disseminated is being strengthened today in other areas including Izbat al-Tabib and Beit Iksa," the secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative said in a statement.

A rally was held in Izbat al-Tabib in the Qalqiliya district of the northern West Bank on Friday to protest Israeli plans to demolish a school in the village.

The rally showed that popular resistance against Israel's occupation is spreading, Barghouthi said.

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