Hundreds of Arabs rallied at the illegal Bedouin outpost of Khan al-Ahmar east of Jerusalem, in a show of support for the local residents, who face eviction.
Muhammad Hussein, the "Mufti of Palestine," delivered a Friday sermon at the location. He stressed the importance of defending the land of "Palestine" and exhorted the residents to remain steadfast.
Hussein expressed confidence in the ability of the Arabs to defeat Israel in this campaign and alluded to a previous campaign over Israel's intention to set up electronic gates at the entrances to the Temple Mount, which ended with a cancellation of Israel's plans.
"Our people who were victorious in the campaign of the gates to Al Aqsa will be victorious in the campaign for the eastern gate to Al Quds," he said. Al Quds is the Arab name for Jerusalem.
Israel's High Court for Justice issued a temprary order Friday freezing the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar and the eviction of its residents. The court had given the go-ahead for the eviction in May, and an attempt to carry out the eviction on Wednesday ended unsuccessfully and violently, with four locals hospitalized and three police lightly wounded.
The State intends to relocate the residents to Abu Dis, but the Bedouins claim that the land allotted them there is insufficient to support their "traditional lifestyle."
Years of legal battles
Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin encampment with just over 170 residents, was built without any building permits or authorization, and sits in part on land belonging to the nearby Israeli community of Kfar Adumim.
First built in the 1990s, Khan al-Ahmar has received assistance from European governments to build illegal structures, including a school.
Years of legal battles culminated in a High Court ruling upholding lower courts’ decisions which found Khan al-Ahmar to be illegal. The court ordered the government to evacuate residents and demolish the town.
In May, the High Court rejected the final appeals made on Khan al-Ahmar’s behalf, paving the way for its removal.
Nevertheless, both the United Nations and European Union have condemned the demolition orders, and called on Israel to retroactively legalize the town and grant it full recognition.
On Wednesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights demanded Israel legalize the town, claiming that Israel lacked authority to enforce construction laws in Judea and Samaria.
"We call on the Israeli authorities not to proceed with the demolition, to respect the rights of residents to remain on their land and have their status regularized," said UNHCHR spokeswoman Liz Throssell said.
Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s Middle East envoy, also condemned Israel over the impending demolition.
“Israel should stop such actions and plans for relocating Bedouin communities in the occupied West Bank. Such actions are contrary to international law and undermine the two-state solution,” read a tweet from Mladenov.
Earlier on Thursday, it was reported that Israeli security forces blocked a delegation of European Union officials from entering Khan al-Ahmar.
According to the report, a delegation of European diplomats attempted to enter Khan al-Ahmar while the preliminary evacuation work was underway.
The European officials were barred from entering the town, and told by Israeli authorities that the site had been declared off-limits.