Now Israel’s Supreme Court has spoken: after State application, the Court has not extended its six-day injunction barring “evacuation or destruction” of the tents erected by Palestinians at Bab Al-Shams.
At 11:00 pm, Abir Kopty Tweeted this:
@AbirKopty — Military bulldozer approaching #BabAlshams, they want to remove it asap because it frightened them so much!
Half an hour later, this was Tweeted:
BabAlshams @Bab_Alshams — 4 #Israeli Bulldozers Seen Destroying #BabAlshams According To Journalists
The Supreme Court went further than merely letting the injunction expire: the Court said that Bab Al-Shams tents could/should be taken down to avoid a “security crisis”.
Daniel Seidemann sent this tweet:
@DanielSeidemann — [Israel’s] National Security Adviser Amidror to Supreme Court: Involvement of PA officials in E-1 protest indicates move is strife-generating provocation.
The organization founded by Daniel Seidemann, Terrestrial Jerusalem, has published a summary report on the Bab Al-Shams experiment, here, saying:
“Last week, a group of Palestinians launched a well-planned, well thought-out, non-violent protest in the area known to the world as E-1, with the establishment of a tent encampment at a site dubbed Bab Ash-Shams. As was widely reported in the Israeli and international media, the Israeli government responded rapidly and vigorously, evicting the protesters and declaring the area a closed military zone…
It appears that Netanyahu government made two claims as a basis for taking action against this Palestinian protest. First, it claimed that while the injunction prevents the dismantling of the tents, it didn’t apply to the evacuation of the protesters. Second, the Netanyahu government asserted that there was an acute security threat, and a threat to public safety. It has been hinted that one way the State Attorney justified the latter assertion was by citing the threat made by Israeli right-wing extremists to challenge the Palestinians. It has also been reported that the State gave the court a sealed secret ‘opinion’ to back up its security argument…
The Message of the E-1/Bab ash-Shams Eviction
The Netanyahu government’s eviction of protesters from the Bab Ash-Shams protest site was technically legal under Israel law (with the term ‘legal’ defined by Israel law, rather than any other objective standard). It was also, by all substantive and objective measures, outrageous, putting some ugly truths on stark display for the entire world to see:
(a) ‘Security’ is a political issue: The current Israeli government’s definition of a ‘security threat’ is not confined solely or even most prominently to threats to Israeli lives or Israeli borders; it extends to any Palestinian action, however benign and non-violent, that threatens the current government’s ideological vision for the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This was evident in the Netanyahu government’s response to the Palestinian non-violent, pro-two-state solution approach to the UN, and it is equally evident in this government’s self-righteous response to the Palestinian protest in E-1.
(b) Basic rights don’t exist under occupation: Palestinians living under occupation do not enjoy the rights of free speech and or non-violent protest/demonstration. This is in contrast to the rights enjoyed by Israeli protesters in Tel Aviv, or Israeli extremists setting up illegal outposts on hilltops across the West Bank. For those constantly asking ‘where is the Palestinian Gandhi?’ the Israeli response at E-1, along with its harsh response to unarmed Palestinian protests in Bil’in, Nilin, Nabi Saleh, etc, provide a clear answer.
c) Not all ‘outposts’ are equal, not all Court orders equally compelling: The Israeli government’s rapid action to evict Palestinian protesters from Bab ash-Shams stands in stark contrast to its unwillingness to remove illegal outposts erected by Israeli settlers. Even when there are clear orders from Israel courts to evacuate these Israeli outposts, successive Israeli governments have engaged in outrageous foot-dragging tactics – tactics that appear to be geared to allowing settlers to dig in at the sites. The Netanyahu government has, in this regard, gone even further than previous governments, in adopting an official policy aimed at ‘legalizing’, through any means possible, the illegal outposts. Removals of illegal settler outposts has occurred only after Israeli courts have cornered the Israeli government and deprived them of all other options, and have been offset by compensatory ‘gifts’ to the settlers in the form of new settlement approvals.
(d) Palestinian non-violent protest, and any other Palestinian initiative, will be crushed: Netanyahu’s message to the Palestinians, encapsulated by the response at E-1/Bab Ash-Shams, has been clear and consistent: you have no option but to give in and give up. He has made clear that negotiations offer no political horizon for Palestinians to achieve the goal of their own state, and will be used only to further discredit and humiliate their leaders. Efforts to achieve gains through non-violent diplomatic moves, like going to the UN, will be framed as diplomatic terrorism. Non-violent protest, even protest legal under Israeli law, will be crushed – and framed in terms that make clear to the world that this is just a new form of unarmed terrorism. And violent protest – which Israel appears to be deliberately pushing Palestinians toward – is terrorism that, too, will be crushed, and will be exploited to make the case that the issue is not Israeli actions and policies, but that the Palestinians do not want peace and hunger to kill Jews.
(e) Israel contiguity counts; Palestinian contiguity doesn’t: Following the announcement late last year that the Netanyahu government was expediting approval E-1, settlement supporters and apologists launched a spin offensive, insisting that the construction of E-1 is compatible is contiguous Palestinian state. That spin offensive, targeting both the media and government officials, was intended to counteract analysis – including from Terrestrial Jerusalem – that construction of E-1 will effectively dismember the West Bank and prevent the emergence of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem. That spin offensive was dealt an unintentional blow in the context of the E-1/Bab Ash-Shams protest, when Prime Minister Netanyahu explained the government’s harsh reaction to the Palestinian protest by stating: ‘We will not allow anyone to harm the contiguity between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim’. With this statement, the world now witnesses the spectacle of Netanyahu and those behind the E-1 spin offensive insisting that 3500 permanent settler units and 12,000 new settlers do not however harm the contiguity of a future Palestinian State, while at the same time arguing, in an indignant tone, that 20 tents and 200 Palestinians unacceptably ‘harm’ contiguity between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim”.
And, Bradley Burston has written in his latest post on his Haaretz blog [“A Special Place in Hell”] that:
“The founding of Bab al-Shams was genius. And no one knew that better than Benjamin Netanyahu. The encampment sent a message that was clear, piercing, and entirely non-violent. The proof: Netanyahu said it had to be destroyed at once.
It needed to be destroyed despite a High Court order that appeared to give the new villagers six days to remain on the site. But in a peculiarly contemporary reinterpretation of the Naqba, the policeannounced that the injunction only
applied to the tents. The people could be taken out. In the dead of night.
So desperate was the need to destroy it quickly, that the head of the Justice Ministry’s High Court division was pressed into service at midnight Saturday, to sign a statement to the court declaring ‘there is an urgent security need to
evacuate the area of the people and tents’.
The government also sent a sealed note to the court, containing further ‘security information’ – classified Secret, as was the reason for its being kept from the public – as to why it was necessary to give the order immediately for 500 police to move in.
But everyone here already knew the secret.
Bab al-Shams needed to be destroyed because it was fighting facts on the ground with facts on the ground.
It needed to be destroyed for the same reason that a hundred similar, patently illegal Israeli West Bank outposts are coddled, honored by visits from cabinet ministers, and rendered permanent with state-supplied electricity, water,
access roads, security protection, and retrofit permits.
Bab al-Shams did not simply touch a nerve. Bab al-Shams had to be destroyed because, where the occupation is concerned, it touched the central nervous system.
On Election Day next week, when I enter the voting booth, I will be taking a small piece of Bab al-Shams with me. My respect and admiration for people who cannot vote in this election, but who each cast an extraordinarily forceful absentee ballot in booths they set up themselves in E-1.
They are fighting the Netanyahu government with the one weapon against which this government has no defense – hope. Hope is this government’s worst enemy, more threatening by far than Iran.
For years and years we’ve been taught to believe that the occupation is irreversible, unassailable, so permanent that there is no occupation, there is just this Israel of ours … We are told what to believe by settlers and their
champions in places like Ra’anana. That there cannot be two states, one for Israelis and one for Palestinians. That we, the Jews, have been here forever and will stay in East Jerusalem in the West Bank forever and ever.
It turns out, though, that other people, on other hilltops, Palestinian people, have something else to teach us. May they succeed”. This Bradley Burston blogpost is published here.