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Activists vow to expand Jerusalem protest village

Jan. 19, 2013 11:43 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 20, 2013 9:49 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Palestinian activists said Saturday they will erect more tents in the al-Karamah (Dignity) protest village being established on the lands of Beit Iksa.

Local groups set up the new tented protest village northwest of Jerusalem, the second such initiative against Israeli settlement building in as many weeks.

In a statement, a broad coalition of Palestinian factions affirmed their support for the initiative and called on the international community to pressure Israel against expanding settlements there.

Activists said they would plant olive trees and finish the construction of a small mosque in the encampment, which aims to highlight Israel's seizure of occupied Palestinian land.

The al-Karamah village will host solidarity delegations and hold cultural events in the evening, activists said.

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, activists say.

When completed, the wall will annex 96 percent of Beit Iksa's land, according to a study by the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem.

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

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," Barghouthi said in a statement.
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