Guardian story on Bab al-Shams falsely suggests Israeli PM violated court order

Yesterday, we reported on a Guardian correction, prompted by an earlier CiF Watch post, to a story written by Harriet Sherwood on Jan. 13 about the recent removal of Palestinian protesters from a tent city named Bab al-Shams – located in an area between the cities of Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim known as E-1.

Less than 24 hours after our post, which challenged claims made in the story that Palestinians were arrested by Israeli police during the evacuation, Guardian editors removed the inaccurate information and noted the correction in the ‘Corrections and clarifications‘ section of their website.

However, there’s one additional substantive mistake in Sherwood’s story which requires correction.

Note the language used in the strapline:


So, is Sherwood suggesting that the eviction carried out, under the orders of the prime minister, in violation of an Israeli Supreme Court ruling and thus not in accord with the rule of law?

Here are the relevant passages from the report which mention the Supreme Court:

On Saturday evening, Netanyahu demanded the Israeli supreme court overturn an injunction preventing the removal of the protesters, and ordered the area to be declared a closed military zone.

The activists sought legal protection from the supreme court, which granted an injunction against eviction and gave the state of Israel up to six days to respond.

Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouti, who was among those detained, said the eviction was “proof that the Israeli government operates an apartheid system. Firstly it decided that supreme court decisions do not apply to Palestinians.

A reasonable person reading the strapline and subsequent text would likely conclude that Netanyahu, furious at a court’s decision explicitly forbidding the removal of Palestinian protesters from the tent city, decided to simply ignore the court order. 

However, such a conclusion would be erroneous.

As CAMERA reported, “the court injunction, issued Friday (Jan. 11) by Justice Neal Hendel, and available in Hebrew on the High Court’s Web site, merely forbade the removal of the tents that the Palestinian activists had set up”, and not the protesters themselves.

Further, per the Supreme Court ruling, even the tents could be legally removed “so long as the state replied to the court within six days that there was a security need”.

Here’s the text from the ruling:

“After studying the petition I hereby impose a temporary injunction according to clause 1 — preventing the evacuation or destruction of tents that were erected by the petitioners on a-Tur lands, east of Kfar al-Azeem, unless an urgent security need arises.

The respondents [the state] will respond to this temporary injunction within six days.”

The bottom line is that, contrary to the clear suggestion in Harriet Sherwood’s report that Palestinians were removed from the protest site illegally (a narrative also parroted by Ali Abunimah at Electronic Intifada), the court order pertained to the tents, not the people.  

Any way you parse it, the Guardian clearly needs to make another correction to the story.

9 replies »

    • Adam, that doesn’t sound right to me. I am aware that your quote is a translation, and my Ivrit is not good enough to understand the subtlety of the original, but you quote the Supreme Court ruling as “preventing the *evacuation* or destruction of tents…” Now it seems to me the removal of the people inside the tents is what is meant by the term “evacuation”.

      Happy to be dissuaded, but that is what that means to me.

      • No, the translation is not that good. The word is removal not evacuation.
        Removal or destruction of the tents and building materials was prohibitted until the state answered in no more than 6 days.

        The tents are still there.

      • The translation is fine. The clear intent is removal of the tents. It speaks nowhere of people and the court order would have spoke of people if that were the case.

        Even the attorney for Palestinians said as much –

        Attorney Tawfiq Jabareen who represented the Palestinians explain this to the High Court of Justice when he secured a temporary injunction against the outpost’s removal on Friday.

        But the court’s language spoke of the tents, not the people, and added that security factors could shift the decision, Jabareen said.

        • פינו אנשים, לא אוהלים. המאחז הפלסטיני בבג”ץ
          תושבי “באב א-שמס” באזור E1 פונו הלילה, אך האוהלים נותרו. לא ברור אם הוקמו על שטח מדינה או על אדמה פרטית. הפלסטינים דיווחו על שישה פצועים שנפגעו במהלך הפינוי
          אביאל מגנזי

          תושבי המאחז הפלסטיני “באב א-שמס” פונו הלילה (יום א’) תוך שעה קלה, אך האוהלים שהציבו נותרו שם. זאת בהתאם לצו הארעי שהוציא שופט בג”ץ ניל הנדל. הפלסטינים ביקשו מבג”ץ צו שימנע פינוי הן של התושבים והן של האוהלים במקום, ובג”ץ סיפק להם מענה חלקי לבקשותיהם: במתן הסעד שימר למעשה השופט את האופציה לחזרת העותרים למקום אם אכן יוכח שמדובר באדמותיהם. במסגרת העתירה טענו ארבעת הפלסטינים שהקימו את המאחז כי מדובר בשטח פרטי השייך להם כחלק מאדמות הכפר א-טור שבו הם מתגוררים.

          מיד לאחר הקמת המאחז דיווחו הפלסטינים על כך שישראל הורתה להם להתפנות מהשטח. אך עורכי דינם של הפלסטינים פנו לבג”ץ בבקשה לצווי מניעה כדי למנוע את הפינוי. המדינה השיבה לבג”ץ כי צו שטח צבאי סגור וצו לסילוק פולשים מאדמות מדינה מקנים לכוחות סמכות לפנות את האנשים מהשטח. המדינה גם הבהירה כי בכוונתה “לפעול בדחיפות למימוש הזכות לפנות את כלל האנשים מהמתחם”.

          הצו הארעי נוגע אך ורק לאוהלים, שלטענת הפלסטינים הם חלק ממיזם תיירותי. המדינה הבהירה כי בסמכותה לבצע פינוי כיוון שמדובר בשטח צבאי סגור, ואף טענה כי מרבית האוהלים נבנו על שטחי מדינה. בהמשך צפויים נציגי המדינה להגיב לצו הארעי ולהבהיר בדיוק אילו אוהלים הוקמו בשטחה.

          This is perfectly simple. The state explains that most of the land the tents are on is state land and not a private land like the claiments say.
          The state explained that they require the removal of materials as well to prevent the risk of creating unsettle scenes and violance.
          They have local information – I don’t so I can’t argue one way or the other.

          It sounds reasonable to remove the people until their claims are proven – which they haven’t.


          As for Bibi’s statements, it’s not helping but this is not something new.
          He state this:
          ” “לא ניתן לאף אחד לפגוע ברצף בין ירושלים למעלה אדומים”.
          Now regardless of your opinion this is to say that he already includes Maale Adumim as a part of Israel in any final decision.
          Not wise.
          But that’s Bibi.

  1. The word is פינוי, which is evacuation(or clearing), not removal(הסרה). I don’t think it’s different from the English word.

    • Pinouy was the word used for the people not the tents.
      The thing is in Hebrew you use Pinouy for both people and materials hence you need to include what you remove / evict.