Israel dismantles Palestinian 'Bab al-Shams' protest camp
Israel dismantled a Palestinian tent camp on Sunday, set up by activists protesting against Israel's plans to build a large settlement near East Jerusalem, Al Jazeera reports.
Before dawn on Sunday, around 200 Israeli police officers removed some 40 demonstrators from the tent camp, which was set up during U.S. President Barack Obama's recent visit, police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, told the news site.
Activists set up the camp, named Bab al-Shams (Gate of the Sun), near the West Bank Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, in an attempt to draw attention to Israeli plans to boost building in E1, a controversial corridor of land east of Jerusalem.
Critics say that plans to build over 3,500 housing units in E1 would cut off the northern part of the West Bank from the south and would leave Palestinian areas of Jerusalem surrounded by a chain of Jewish ones, threatening the viability of a future Palestinian state.
During his visit last week, Obama highlighted the E1 settlement as particularly problematic.
One of the protest organizers, Palestinian legislator, Mustafa Barghouti, told AFP news agency by phone on Sunday that he and four others were arrested and taken for questioning at Maale Adumim police station.
He said around 50 other activists were put on buses and released in a Palestinian Authority-controlled part of the West Bank.
The Bab al-Shams camp was first set up in January but taken down by court order on the grounds of "public disorder".
The encampment is part of a new Palestinian tactic to protest against Israeli settlement expansion.