Palestinian Arabs have been attempting to construct tent cities in locations that either Israel would like to use the land to continue construction of the Security Barrier or Israel would like to remain part of Israel as part of any peace agreement between Palestinians and Israelis. Thus, the Palestinians seek to create facts on the ground in their favor. Recently, the IDF was forced to destroy a Palestinian tent city called Al Karama (Dignity) that was built illegally on land that presently belongs to the State of Israel in Beit Iksa, which is located between the Ramot and Mevasseret Zion neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

Al Karama is also the name of a battle between Israel and the PLO that took place in Jordan in 1968. During this battle, Israel achieved all of her military objectives, by destroying most of the Al Karama camp and taking hundreds of prisoners, yet the Palestinians still nevertheless declared mythological victory for heavy losses were inflicted upon the Israelis, who withdrew at the end of the battle (yet the Palestinians still suffered worse losses). Palestinians believe that it helped to assert their nationalist claims. From that point on, the strength of the PLO did grow significantly. The Battle of Al Karama would eventually lead to Black September.

Indeed, it is no accident that an outpost built on Israeli state land was called Al Karama. The Palestinians claim that they built the outpost of Al Karama at Beit Iksa because the area is slated to be cut off from Jerusalem by Israel’s Security Barrier. The Palestinian Authority refuses to accept the idea of creating a state without controlling Jerusalem, hence why Palestinians object to the Palestinian Authority areas being cut off from Jerusalem. By building tent cities with the name Al Karama, the Palestinians seek to utilize the same tactics that the social justice protest movement in Israel and the Occupy Wall Street movement in the US used in order to create media publicity in favor of their claims and thus in their eyes to have the same mythological victory that Palestinians had before them at Al Karama.

Unfortunately, the Palestinians are willing to do this even if it means violence. Palestinian Arabs tried to physically prevent IDF soldiers from reaching their tents, thus forcing Israel to utilize crowd disposal methods such as firing tear gas canisters and sound bombs. However, despite the setback that Israel caused the Palestinians at the Al Karama camp, the Palestinians are not planning on backing down, stating that they plan on putting up more tents in the area and even building a mosque as well as planting olive trees in the encampment.

Yet Al Karama was not the only outpost set up by Palestinian Arabs that needed to be destroyed recently, for Palestinians had also set up tent cities in the E-1 area, which is adjacent to the Hebrew University at Mount Scopus campus and connects Jerusalem to a Jewish city in Judea and Samaria called Maale Adumim. The E-1 area, which is presently an open area full of grass and wild animals roaming around, falls in Area C, which is under full Israeli and military control, is within the municipal boundaries of Maale Adumim, and is slated to remain part of Israel under any agreement with the Palestinians. Yet nevertheless, the Palestinians seek to prevent Israel from building there as well. Indeed, a spokesman for the Civil Administration referred to the tent city built by Palestinians in E-1 as a “provocation.”

By Rachel Avraham