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(en) Palestine-Israel, Media, Haaretz, Bil'in residents set up 'outpost' west of separation fence

Date Wed, 21 Dec 2005 23:29:18 +0200


Settlers aren't the only ones building outposts in the West Bank:
Palestinians from the village of Bil'in, near Ramallah, on Wednesday
set up a caravan on land isolated from the village by the separation fence.
Israel Defense Forces troops are gearing up to evacuate the caravan, military sources say.
Dozens of Bil'in residents, accompanied by Israeli* and international
activists, set out Wednesday morning to place the caravan on land
adjacent to the settlement of Upper Modi'in.
Mohammed Khateb, a member of Bil'in's Popular Committee Against the Wall,
said that the container was placed on land belonging to a village resident
and comes with a building permit from Bil'in village council.

The fence cuts village residents from approximately half of their
lands.

Khateb also said that the committee intends to establish a "center for
the joint struggle for peace," where the caravan stands.

Bil'in has become the symbol of the struggle against the separation
fence, serving as the site of dozens of joint Palestinian-Israeli
demonstrations in the past year. Some of the demonstrations have
ended in violent altercations with security forces.

Dealing with the caravan is liable to be an embarrassment for the
IDF and the Civil Administration. The container is adjacent to the
Matityahu East neighborhood of Upper Modi'in, where hundreds of
illegal housing units have recently been constructed.

Akiva Eldar of Haaretz recently exposed the Civil Administration's
admission that 750 housing units had been built illegally with no
permits whatsoever. The caravan, which arrived Wednesday from
inside Israel, is standing approximately 100 meters away from the
Matityahu East construction site.

According to the law, the Civil Administration can take down the
container within a month of its placement with no need for legal
proceedings. But the IDF is well aware that if this is done, the
Palestinians will formally accuse the Civil Administration of
discrimination in hurrying to dismantle a lone Palestinian caravan
while ignoring hundreds of illegal units in an adjacent Jewish
neighborhood.

"Private Palestinian land is in question here, not state land. The
village council approved setting up a caravan and thus this is a legal
structure," said attorney Michael Sfard, who represents the village
residents.

"This will be blatant proof of the fact that there is selective law
enforcement if they deal with the poor caravan before the hundreds
of housing units built illegally in Upper Modi'in," he added.

Sfard submitted a letter in the name of Peace Now to the Civil
Administration demanding a halt to the construction within a week.
At the end of this time, Sepharad writes in the letter, he will turn to
the Supreme Court.

Civil Administration sources said that the construction in Upper
Modi'in is indeed illegal and "the head of the Administration is
examining its options to address the situation."

As for the caravan, military sources say the army has no intention of
violently struggling with the residents, but say that the container will
be taken down.

The same sources say that they are aware that as soon as the
caravan is dismantled, they will need to explain to the court why
they are rushing to act against illegal Palestinian construction while
taking their time in dealing with unlawful building by settlers.
============================
* The caravan placement is part of the intensified activity of
the joint struggle of the Bil'in's Popular Committee Against the Wall
and the Israeli Anarchists Against The Wall against the separation
fence in the region, against the building of settler colonialist
out posts and against occupation. The activity is intensified as preparation
for the Israeli highest court verdict on Bil'in chalenge of the
route of the separation fence due at the 1st of February.
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