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Activists construct new protest village in south Hebron

Feb. 9, 2013 11:14 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 11, 2013 3:34 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- Palestinians and foreign solidarity activists on Saturday set up a new protest village in the south Hebron hills, and vowed to remain there despite Israeli forces moving to dismantle the structures.

Early Saturday, activists set up steel-framed tents near the Palestinian village of al-Tuwani, calling the encampment "Canaan".

Younis Arar, coordinator of the popular committees in the southern West Bank, told Ma'an that soldiers assaulted the 30 activists who had gathered in the area.

"We began building the tents and were surprised when a large force of the Israeli army began attacking us and destroying tents and hitting us ... We will try and build Canaan village again," Arar said.

A military spokeswoman said soldiers evacuated illegal structures, and responded with riot dispersal means when around 100 Palestinians "rioted" in the area.

A Ma'an reporter said three journalists were detained, and the military spokeswoman said five Palestinians and five Israelis were arrested for entering the area after it was declared a closed military zone.

Yatta popular committee spokesman Ibrahim Rabee told Ma'an the protest camp was a stand against Israeli policies in the region.

"We are establishing Canaan on our land after our homes and water wells were demolished, and our people displaced," he said.

The south Hebron hills lies in an area of the West Bank under full Israeli military control, and its residents say Israel does not allow any building permits and demolishes homes and infrastructure, while supporting Israeli settlements in the area.

Just south of al-Tuwani, Israel has established a closed military zone where the state wants to evict eight Palestinian villages to make way for a army training ground.

The Canaan protest camp is the fifth such initiative in recent weeks.

In January, the Bab al-Shams village was set up in an area where Israel plans to build the "E1" settlement, severing the West Bank from Jerusalem.

Then, locals established the al-Karamah (Dignity) village in Beit Iksa, northwest of Jerusalem, which is set to be tightly encircled by Israel's separation wall.

A week later, activists set up the Al-Asra, or prisoners, protest village in the village of Anin, northwest of Jenin.

Last Saturday, Palestinians established the "Al-Manatir neighborhood" encampment in an area of Burin village that activists say is slated for confiscation by a neighboring settlement.

Israeli forces have moved to evacuate each of the camps and dismantle their structures.

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