The Israeli military has removed Palestinian activists protesting at a deserted village in the West Bank whose final status is a central issue in US-mediated peace talks.
Hundreds of activists had been demonstrating for a week at the site of Ein Hijleh, a Palestinian village in the Jordan Valley abandoned after Israel captured the land from Jordan in the 1967 war.
Abdallah Abu Rahmeh, a protest organizer, said on Friday soldiers raided the site where activists had been camping, including women and children.
“They came in large forces, more than a thousand soldiers who surrounded the village from all sides and after doing so, they started firing stun grenades on the cluster of people who had been gathered there, more than 300 in number. They started firing over their heads and then they attacked very violently using stun grenades and flares and beatings,” Rahmen reportedly said, according to RTV reports.
The military said troops had called on the activists to leave the area and evacuated them after they refused.
The fate of the strategic Jordan Valley is a central issue in peace talks. Israel wants to keep a military presence there after a deal is reached, citing security concerns. Palestinians reject that.
With a nine-month target date set by Washington expiring in late April, disputes holding up peacemaking include Israel’s insistence on keeping a military and settler presence in the Jordan Valley, the future Palestine’s eastern border.
(Agencies via Al Jazeera – www.aljazeera.com)