Middle East

Israel evicts tent protesters at West Bank E1 settlement

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe BBC's Wyre Davies says the eviction was relatively peaceful

Israeli police have evicted Palestinian and international activists from an area of the West Bank where Israel is planning fresh settlement building.

They had put up around 20 tents in the area called E1, between Jerusalem and the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim.

Israel's Supreme Court had ruled on Friday that the encampment could remain for six days.

Palestinians fear building in E1 would threaten the viability of a future Palestinian state.

They say construction in E1 will cut off East Jerusalem, claimed by Palestinians for their capital, from the rest of a putative state in the West Bank.

Abir Kopty, spokeswoman for the Popular Struggle Co-ordination Committee, a Palestinian activist group, tweeted that six people had been injured during the eviction and had been taken to hospital.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said there had been no injuries.

The activists had said they wanted to build a village on the site, calling it Bab al-Shams (Gateway to the Sun), after a famous novel about Palestinian history.

Surprise move

About 200 Palestinian activists and protesters were evicted from the camp by hundreds of Israeli soldiers in the early hours of Sunday.

Prominent Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouthi was among those removed from the site.

The activists' tactics in E1 caught the Israeli authorities by surprise, the BBC's Wyre Davies in Jerusalem reports.

Despite the removal, Palestinians - encouraged by the impact of their action - say they will repeat the tactic in other parts of the occupied West Bank, our correspondent says.

E1 is one of the most contentious pieces of land in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Although the dusty, arid hill-top is on what is internationally recognised as occupied Palestinian territory, Israel recently announced it was planning to build homes there for Jewish settlers, our correspondent says.

Israeli plans to build in the area had been on hold for years until the Palestinians succeeded in December in having their status upgraded at the UN from an "entity" to that of a "non-member observer state".

The move was condemned by Israel and the US as a violation of peace accords.

The following day Israel approved "preliminary zoning and planning work" in E1.

The US called this move counterproductive, while European governments summoned Israeli ambassadors in protest.

Israel also suspended the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority - on which the PA is heavily dependent - in response to the UN status decision.