Demolition of Khan al-Ahmar just days away

PNN/Bethlehem

Israeli security forces are reportedly preparing for the demolition of the Bedouin community at Khan al-Ahmar in the coming days. Activity by Israeli personnel in the area has escalated following the Israeli Supreme Court’s decision on 24th May 2018 to give legal backing to the planned demolition of Khan al-Ahmar, home to members of the Jahalin Bedouin tribe.

B’tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, released video footage from Khan al-Ahmar on 1st July, showing Israeli military and police officials walking through the village and inspecting houses. Such unsettling activity has provoked fears that the community at Khan al-Ahmar’s will soon be forcibly transferred. Residents told reporters that one Israeli police officer threatened them with a warning that it would be better for them to leave ‘voluntarily’. B’tselem denounced these developments as ‘preparations for a war crime’.

Should the unlawful demolition of Khan al-Ahmar begin, 173 people, comprised of 32 families, will be made homeless and will be forced from their land; they will be transferred to West Jahalin, near the Palestinian community of Abu Dis. The village’s school, which currently educates 150 children from the surrounding region, will also be destroyed and will deeply affect the twelve local Palestinian communities.

Israel has long tried to displace this village. In fact, over the past twelve years 26 homes have been demolished in the community. As if this was not enough, the Israeli authorities have made the community’s life intolerable in another ways: by refusing to connect them to water, electricity or sewage systems and by restricting their agricultural land.

The reasons for the removal of communities like Khan al-Ahmar include the expansion of Israel’s settlements, its de facto annexation of land and its desire to bisect the West Bank east of Jerusalem. As the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights commented last month:

 ‘The (E1) Settlement Plan comes at the forefront of these projects, seeking to annex the settlements established, east of the city, within the boundaries of the Israeli municipality and so separating the north of West Bank from the south of it and bury any possibility of a viable Palestinian state’

After the weekend’s developments, it looks like bulldozers will soon arrive to demolish Khan al-Ahmar and to bury yet another Palestinian village in a gross violation of international law.