Palestinian activists, joined by like-minded Israelis and internationals, have exhibited a new form of non-violent action of late: the erection of protest camps on empty but threatened lands in the Occupied Territories. This was the latest round.
A look at the map (below) helps tell the story: The Palestinian village of Burin (circled) is hemmed in on the north and south by the illegal Israeli settlements of Yitzhar and Bracha (“Har Bracha” on Mount Gerizim means “Mount of Blessing” — but who is it blessing?). These two settlements, well-known as among the most rabidly ideological, have repeatedly launched attacks on their Palestinian neighbors and their agricultural lands.
Two elements in the story are telling: First, the IDF “declared the area a closed military zone”, which is a favorite, catch-all tactic employed to quash any activity which they don’t like or somehow makes them nervous; it provides a pretext for violently clearing the area. Secondly, “IDF soldiers arrived on the scene together with settlers from the nearby settlements Yitzhar and Bracha” [emphasis supplied]. How cozy is that?
The Haaretz article is found on-line HERE; the text is reproduced in full below:
Clashes in West Bank village after Palestinians erect protest camp
IDF soldiers dismantled the outpost, 10 Palestinians arrested; Camp set up in village of Burin, called ‘Al Manatir,’ comes barely a month after Palestinians erected Bab al-Shams in E-1 area.
IDF soldiers and settlers clashed with Palestinians in the West Bank village of Burin, just south of Nablus on Saturday, after dozens of Palestinian activists and Burin locals erected a new outpost called “Al Manatir” in the morning. The camp was comprised of four tents and five metal shacks.
A total of ten Palestinians were arrested after the IDF entered the village and began firing tear gas and live ammunition into the air. The IDF declared the area a closed military zone Saturday afternoon and denies claims that live ammunition was fired.
Palestinians on the scene claim settlers uprooted 100 olive trees and Palestinian medics reported that a 16-year old was wounded in his leg and 20 people suffered tear gas inhalation. There are also reports that a mosque was set alight as a result of tear gas and that it has since been put out.
Many activists said they intend to return to the area Sunday and re-establish the outpost.
Fatah issued a statement in support of the protest camp, noting that the action is part of the legitimate popular struggle within the borders of occupied Palestine.
Palestinians say the confrontations started when IDF soldiers arrived on the scene together with settlers from the nearby settlements Yitzhar and Bracha.
Salah al Hawaje, a Palestinian activist, said that settlers who took control of a caravan inside the village sparked the clashes, in which Palestinian youth threw stones at soldiers and settlers.
A large IDF force was deployed to the area to surround the protest camp and closed off the eastern entrance to the village. The soldiers also set up position in a Palestinian home to prevent more activists and supporters from entering the village.
This outpost is part of a larger movement that started a month ago when Palestinian activists set up the Bab al Shams outpost in the E-1 area, and continued with the establishment of Bab al-Karama in Beit Iksa, northwest of Jerusalem.
In another incident on Saturday afternoon, Palestinians and settlers from Yitzhar clashed at a junction near the settlement. One Palestinian and one Israeli settler were lightly wounded.
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UPDATE / 04 FEB 2013
I thought something smelled fishy here. The protest encampment at Burin was erected on village lands in Area B, under Palestinian civil control according to Oslo’s A-B-C protocol. The whole pretext of the violent Army action was the demolition of “illegal” structures, but that’s a purely civil matter, and the IDF was even warned ahead of time by the Civil Administration (which is, well, the Army) that it was not authorized to carry out the operation. For reference, see the map above: areas in purple shadings are claimed by the illegal settlements; the surrounding blue is Area C; Burin is in Area B.
The follow-up story is found on-line HERE; full text below:
IDF razes Palestinian West Bank encampment despite being told it had no authority to operate there
The IDF said the site, which is south of Nablus, is ‘on the seam between Areas B and C.’ Area C is under complete Israeli security and civilian control.
By Chaim Levinson | Feb.04, 2013
The Israel Defense Forces demolished an encampment set up by Palestinians near the West Bank village of Burin over the weekend even though the Civil Administration says the army is not authorized to operate there.
Before the demolition, the Civil Administration informed the IDF that it was not authorized to take action because the land is in Area B, which is under Palestinian civilian control.
The IDF said the site, which is south of Nablus, is “on the seam between Areas B and C.” Area C is under complete Israeli security and civilian control.
Palestinians set up the encampment Saturday, bringing tents and a tin structure to a parcel of land that belongs to Burin and has been the site of multiple clashes between Burin residents and settlers from the nearby outpost of Givat Ronen.
Clashes began anew shortly after the Burin residents set up the encampment, which they are calling Al-Manatir, and Border Police forces under the command of Lt. Col. Oriya Hetzroni had trouble getting the situation under control.
A film of one of the arrests made by Border Police officers shows them attempting to handcuff a Palestinian man lying on the ground. An IDF soldier is seen placing his foot on the man’s pelvis.
The army issued an order declaring the area a closed military zone, in an effort to prevent others from arriving to intensify the fighting.
An officer from the Civil Administration, which is responsible for enforcing building and planning laws, was present and said that since the structures were erected in Area B, only the Palestinian Authority has the right to enforce civil law such as that governing illegal construction.
Hetzroni ordered the encampment demolished anyway and the soldiers began to break up the tents with their hands. Residents of the nearby Jewish outpost made off with the tin structure.
The IDF said four security personnel were hurt in the fighting.
“A violent and illegal disturbance of the peace took place [Saturday] near Burin, south of Nablus, in which 150 Palestinians participated, who threw stones at security forces,” the army said in a statement. “The disturbances took place on the seam between Areas B and C. Therefore it was decided at a certain point to declare a closed military zone due to fear of real harm to the area’s residents. During the disturbances four security personnel were injured and seven Palestinians who disturbed the peace where arrested.”
The army said it was investigating “the confiscation of the tents” and the video showing the IDF soldier standing on the pelvis of a Palestinian man, an incident it said will be “dealt with if necessary.”
A senior IDF Central Command officer told reporters Sunday that the army was ready for Palestinians to begin setting up their own outposts in the West Bank but was still surprised that it happened in the Burin area.
Until Saturday’s incident, the IDF has generally been careful to adhere to laws governing the removal of structures deemed illegal.
For example, the army has ordered the removal of structures built on the portion of the Palestinian Bab el-Shams outpost that is on state land. It has categorized the structures, located in the E-1 corridor linking Jerusalem with Ma’aleh Adumim, as a case of “new squatting.”
However, the structures built on adjacent private Palestinian land were ordered demolished under building and planning laws instead.
For Jewish outposts, there must legally be a hearing phase before demolition orders are approved.