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Israel evacuates settlers entering protest camp

Feb. 2, 2014 8:31 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 4, 2014 10:46 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – Israeli forces on Sunday evacuated five settlers who said they mistakenly entered the Ein Hijla encampment protest near Jericho.

Abdullah Abu Rahma, a representative of the West Bank popular committees against Israel’s separation wall and settlements, told Ma’an that that Palestinian activists, who have been encamping in Ein Hijla for the third day, stopped the settlers and questioned them for half an hour.

The settlers told the activists they entered the village “mistakenly and that they support the Palestinians and the peace process,” according to Abu Rahma.

He added that Israeli forces stormed the encampment area and evacuated the settlers.

Hundreds of activists set up the encampment Friday in protest against Israeli settlement activities, attempts to annex the Jordan Valley, and confiscation of lands belonging to a local Orthodox church.

The protest follows similar efforts by Palestinian protesters in the encampments of Bab al-Shams and Ahfad Younis in early 2013 that were dispersed by Israeli forces.

Jewish settlers frequently raid Palestinian lands and set up illegal outposts across the West Bank, usually uninhibited by Israeli authorities and often supported by Israeli military forces. These outposts are often chosen for their strategic locations between Palestinian villages and atop hills or major roads.

Israeli forces often provide security for the settlers, confiscating nearby Palestinian lands and expanding military presence.

Many of these outposts are eventually developed into permanent settlements, and today nearly 500,000 Israeli Jews live in settlements built across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
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