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New protest village erected after Ein Hajla destroyed overnight

Feb. 7, 2014 4:33 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 10, 2014 9:49 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A group of Palestinian and international activists on Friday established a new protest village in the Jordan Valley, only hours after Israeli forces raided and destroyed the encampment of Ein Hajla in the region.

The new protest village was set up in al-Joula in the Jiftlik area of the northern Jordan valley on Friday.

A central committee member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine told Ma'an that dozens of activists had established the protest village in al-Jiftlik in order to reiterate that the region is a Palestinian area, referring to Israeli plans to annex the Jordan Valley as part of peace negotiations.

Bassa Maslamani said that the camp was set up near the site of an Israeli "numbered graveyard," where Israeli authorities keep the remains of a number of Palestinians who were killed by Israeli forces, many during the Second Intifada.

The move came after Israeli troops invaded a protest village overnight that had been set up a week before in Ein Hajla in the southern Jordan Valley.

Israeli forces attacked and destroyed the protest village before dawn, injuring at least 35 protesters during the assault.

Ein Hajla was set up last Friday to protest against Israeli confiscation policies in the area, continued Jewish settlement construction on occupied land, and recent proposals to annex the Jordan Valley.

Israeli forces had surrounded the encampment and prevented supplies, as well as other activists, from entering the village for the last week.

Lawmaker Mustafa Barghouthi said hundreds of Israeli soldiers raided the village on Friday morning, firing stun grenades and beating people there, including children. Several suffered fractures after they were struck with batons and rifle butts, he said.

Barghouthi, who was present at Ein Hajla during the raid, said dozens of military vehicles and prisoner transport vehicles arrived at the village, and soldiers and detained a large number of people.

Diana Alzeer from the Ein Hajla media committee told Ma'an that a total of 35 protesters were injured, of which many were taken to hospital as a result.

She added that several protesters were detained but were released on the spot.

Barghouthi added that a Israeli soldiers threw a journalist from the top of one of the houses, and prevented Palestinian TV cameras from videotaping the incident.

He added that the activists would return to Ein Hajla and Bab Shams, and that their "will will not be broken" despite the attack.

The official praised protesters who remained at the village and were not intimidated by the brutality of occupation, saying Ein Hajla was victorious.

An Israeli army statement said that forces had "called on the provocateurs to independently evacuate the area," but after they did not heed warnings, an "initiated evacuation took place."

The statement added that "agitators were evacuated due to rock hurling earlier this week at the main Jordan Valley route, and other legal considerations."

The protest encampments at Ein Hajla and al-Joula follow similar efforts by Palestinian protesters in the encampments of Bab al-Shams and Ahfad Younis in early 2013, both of which 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.

Many of these outposts are eventually developed into permanent settlements, and today nearly 500,000 Israeli Jews live in illegal 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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