RAMALLAH, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- "It is one of the strongest popular messages sent to Israel against the construction of the illegal settlements on the occupied Palestinian territories," one of the Palestinian activists who erected tents in the controversial E1 area between Jerusalem and the West Bank in protest of Israeli settlement expansion said Sunday, as Israeli soldiers were evacuating the activists' newly-set encampment.
The Israeli evacuation operation came two days after the activists erected a new encampment in the area and called it "Bab al-Shams village" (the gate of sun). It took more than one hour for around 500 Israeli soldiers, backed by bulldozers, to force the activists out of the camp and carry them with three buses to an Israeli military checkpoint at the entrance to Ramallah.
Waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans against the Israeli occupation as they got off the buses, the Palestinian activists said they managed to convey their "symbolic popular message" against settlement activities despite the Israeli evacuation operation.
Right after they crossed through the checkpoint, the activists hugged each other in celebration, and declared with confidence that they had succeeded in this "new activity of peaceful struggle " and would go for more such actions of peaceful struggle to convey more messages to the world.
"We really achieved a great moral victory, and this time we really succeeded in conveying a message to Israel and to the world that settlement is illegal and the world is against it," Salah al- Khawaja, one of the activists and the initiator, told Xinhua after he was evicted with dozens of other activists.
"Our initiative aims at renewing the oath to continue our struggle and to intensify our choices of peaceful struggle as part of our strategic choice to end settlement and end the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories," he added.
The activists said they were inspired by Lebanese playwright Elias Khoury's novel "Bab al-Shams", which is about the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) when the state of Israel was born and thousands of Palestinians fled their towns and became refugees.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior member of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), told Xinhua that the Palestinians "are so proud of what the activists had achieved," as the land on which they built up the tents is a territory where Israel intends to build dozens of settlement units.
Israel decided last month to build 4,000 houses in the E1 area. The Palestinians strongly opposed the decision, saying that the settlement aims at isolating Jerusalem and divides the West Bank, which would obstruct the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
Although Israel used force Sunday to stop the initiative, the Palestinians said this initiative can never be ended. "It will be the beginning of new ways and methods of peaceful struggle against settlements and against the Israeli occupation," they said.
"After this successful step, we are planning to go for more steps of peaceful struggle against the Israeli occupation. Next step, we are planning to join 10,000 activists and build up another city in another area Israel threats to confiscate to expand settlement," said al-Khawaja.
The peaceful struggle is backed by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has stressed that he backs peaceful struggle against Israel instead of using violent actions that would make the Palestinians loosing the world's sympathy.
Some other Palestinian figures and groups also voiced support to the "civilized" peaceful struggle.
Hamas spokesman in Gaza Fawzi Barhoum said in a press statement that his movement calls on the Palestinians to continue their resistance by all means against the Israeli occupation.
The peaceful and popular Palestinian struggle against Israel " is the best way to embarrass Israel in front of the world and show it as a state of occupation and a state of settlements," Samir Awad, a political science professor at Beir Zeit University in the West Bank, told Xinhua.