in the last two hours, Israel has brutally attacked and arrested hundreds of Palestinian activists at Bab Al Shams who were carrying out non-violent resistance to Israel's occupation and apartheid policies.
The protest village was established on January 11 by 250 Palestinian men and women on privately owned Palestinian land in the Occupied West Bank/Occupied East Jerusalem corridor know by Israel as E1. The protest village was established under the umbrella of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee and has been a direct challenge to Israel's occupation and apartheid practices.
The Palestinian activists called the village "Bab Al Shams" after the famous novel by Elias Khoury.
After learning of the establishment of the village, Khoury sent the following letter of solidarity to the activists on 12 January.
In solidarity, Kim
I won't say I wish I were with you, I am with you. I see you, and I see how the dream through your hands has turned into reality rooted in the earth. "On this earth is what makes life worth living", just as Mahmoud Darwish wrote, for when you built your wonderful village you gave back meaning to meaning. You became the sons of this land and its masters.
This is the Palestine that Younis dreamt of in the novel Bab Al Shams/Gate of the Sun. Younis had a dream made of words, and the words became wounds bleeding over the land. You became, people of Bab Al Shams, the words that carry the dream of freedom and return Palestine to Palestine.
I see in your village all the faces of the loved ones who departed on the way to the land of our Palestinian promise. Palestine is the promise of the strangers who were expelled from their land and continue to be expelled everyday from their homes.
Strangers and yet you are the sons of the land, its olives and oil!
You are the olives of Palestine that shine under the sun of justice, and as you build your village the light of freedom flares up with you.
"Light upon light"
I see in your eyes a nation born from the rubble of the nakba that has gone on for sixty-four years.
I see you and in my heart the words grow, I see the words and you grow in my heart, rise high and burst into the sky.
Finally, I only have the wish that you accept me as a citizen of your village, that I may learn from you the meanings of freedom and justice.
(Beirut January 12, 2013. Translated by Sonja Mejcher -Atassi)
250 men and women from across Palestine establish this morning a new Palestinian village named “Bab Alshams” (Gate of the Sun). Tents were built in what Israel refers to as area E1 and equipment for long-term living was brought.
The group released the following statement:
We, the sons and daughters of Palestine from all throughout the land, announce the establishment of Bab Alshams Village (Gate of the Sun). We the people, without permits from the occupation, without permission from anyone, sit here today because this is our land and it is our right to inhabit it.
A few months ago the Israeli government announced its intention to build about 4000 settlement housing units in the area Israel refers to as E1. E1 block is an area of about 13 square km that falls on confiscated Palestinian land East of Jerusalem between Ma’ale Adumim settlement, which lies on occupied West Bank Palestinian land, and Jerusalem. We will not remain silent as settlement expansion and confiscation of our land continues. Therefore we hereby establish the village of Bab Alshams to proclaim our faith in direct action and popular resistance. We declare that the village will stand steadfast until the owners of this land will get their right to build on their land.
The village’s name is taken from the novel, “Bab Alshams,” by Lebanese writer Elias Khoury. The book depicts the history of Palestine through a love story between a Palestinian man, Younis, and his wife Nahila. Younis leaves his wife to join the Palestinian resistance in Lebanon while Nahila remains steadfast in what remains of their village in the Galilee. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Younis smuggles through Lebanon and back to the Galilee to meet his wife in the “Bab Alshams” cave, where she gives birth to their children. Younis returns to the resistance in Lebanon as his wife remains in Bab Al Shams.
Bab Alshams is the gate to our freedom and steadfastness. Bab Alshams is our gate to Jerusalem. Bab Alshams is the gate to our to our return.
For decades, Israel has established facts on the ground as the International community remained silent in response to these violations. The time has come now to change the rules of the game, for us to establish facts on the ground - our own land. This action involving women and men from the north to the south is a form of popular resistance. In the coming days we will hold various discussion groups, educational and artistic presentations, as well as film screenings on the lands of this village. The residents of Bab Al Shams invite all the sons and daughters of our people to participate and join the village in supporting our resilience