The European Parliament passed a resolution on Thursday saying Israel’s planned demolition of Khan al-Ahmar would amount to a war crime, and demanded Israel compensate the EU for the demolition of EU-funded structures in the village.
The resolution, which is being hailed by activists as the harshest condemnation to come from the EU regarding Khan al-Ahmar, comes just days after Israel’s High Court gave the government the final green light to demolish the village.
It calls on Israel to cease “its policy of threats of demolition and actual eviction against the Bedouin communities” living in the occupied West Bank and inside Israel, particularly in the southern Negev desert.
Citing the Fourth Geneva Convention, the resolution warns Israeli authorities of violating the convention and committing a war crime, saying “forcible transfer of the residents of an occupied territory, unless the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand… and constitutes a grave breach of international humanitarian law.”
The resolution demands compensation from Israel for up to EUR 315,000 that the EU invested in the village, and called on EU leaders to ensure Israel protect vulnerable Palestinian communities living in Area C — the area of the occupied West Bank where Palestinian construction is virtually banned by Israel.
International officials have warned that the destruction of Khan al-Ahmar, which has been embroiled in a legal battle with the Israeli government for decades, would pave the way for the destruction of dozens of other communities in Area C.
While many Palestinian activists argue that through its rapid settlement expansion, Israel has effectively killed the two-state solution, the resolution “expressed concern at the impact of the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar, which would further threaten the viability of the two-state solution and undermine prospects for peace.”
Khan al-Ahmar, which is home to some 200 Palestinian Bedouins, sits in the “E1 area” of the central occupied West Bank, directly in the path of the West Bank settlements — Kfar Adumim and Maale Adumim — that Israel hopes to annex and connect with occupied East Jerusalem.
If carried out, Israel’s E1 plan would virtually cut the West Bank in half, making a future contiguous Palestinian state impossible.
The High Court decision last week granted the government permission to forcibly evacuate the community any time after September 13. Activists have been traveling to the site of the village for weeks in preparation for the demolition, and have been increasing their numbers in recent days.
Earlier on Thursday morning, before dawn, dozens of armed Israeli forces arrived to the village, along with a bulldozer, and dismantled five shelters that activists had built a few days prior, on land a few hundred meters away from the site of the village.
The structures were housing activists, who hoped that the structures could be used as temporary homes for the Bedouins of Khan al-Ahmar following the demolition of the village.
The Bedouins of Khan al-Ahmar are part of the Jahalin tribe, who are native to what is now the Negev desert in southern Israel. Like some 750,000 other Palestinians, they were forcibly displaced from their homeland in 1948 when Israel was created, and moved to where they currently live.
Israel’s right wing government has argued that Khan al-Ahmar — which is primarily built out of tin structures — was constructed without nearly impossible to obtain Israeli-issued building permits on so-called “state lands,” therefore rendering it “illegal” and subject to demolition.