PA approves establishment of the local authority of Khan al-Ahmar

PNN/ Ramallah/

The Palestinian prime minister’s office on Sunday said that concurrently with 25 years to the signing of Oslo Accords, the Israeli authorities have escalated their arbitrary measures against Palestinian citizens.

Statement by the PMO mentioned many violations, highlighting IOF demolishing Wadi al Ahmar village the village which was built by activists from a number of human rights organizations and Palestinian government institutions opposite to Khan al-Ahmar Bedouin community threatened of demolition, under the pretext of building without an Israeli permit.

This illegal demolition measure follows the Israeli Supreme Court decision On May 24, 2018, after a lengthy legal battle, ruled to demolish the entire Bedouin community of Khan al- Ahmar, and forcibly move its residents to an urban location near a landfill site in Abu Dis Area. The Supreme Court of Israel also rejected the petition submitted on September 5, 2018 by the residents of Khan al-Ahmar to reverse its decision. On Sunday, September 23, 2018, the occupation forces handed over the residents military orders to self-demolish all buildings built inside the Khan Al-Ahmar village.

The map above shows the current location of Khan al-Ahmar and the proposed relocation site

In light of the above, the Palestinian government stressed that:

  • Khan al-Ahmar is one of several Palestinian communities located in the so-called “Area C” of the West Bank and threatened with Israeli demolition and forced displacement as well as another 45 Bedouin communities located between Jerusalem and Jericho, comprising about 8,000 people. Khan al-Ahmar is the first such community to have exhausted all legal options before the Israeli courts. The current imminent demolition status of Khan al-Ahmar will create a legal precedent for the Israeli authorities to expedite the demolition of other entire communities in the West Bank aiming at continuing the so- called “E1” or “Greater Jerusalem” colonial plan. The so-called “Military Order 1797,” issued recently, referred to the fact that the Israeli authorities are striving to accelerate the demolition of entire Palestinian communities and infrastructure in the so-called “Area C”.
  • The residents of Khan al-Ahmar, who are originally refugees and/ or descendants of refugees displaced by the Israeli authorities in the 1950s, have declared clearly and unequivocally their opposition to the demolitions and to their forced displacement. The illegal Israeli demolition of Khan al-Ahmar community, as well as other demolitions, is part of a coercive environment engineered by the Israeli authorities to pressure these vulnerable and isolated communities to leave their land, paving the way for land confiscation and settlement construction. In 2016, Khan al-Ahmar experienced no fewer than 8 separate measures of demolitions and confiscations, with 35 structures demolished or confiscated (including 24 donor-funded buildings), displacing 66 residents and further affecting and injuring 14 residents. The International Law is clear on the unlawfulness of demolitions of public and private property (Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention), which is considered a war crime (Article 8(2) (a) (IV) of the Rome Statute). In addition, forcible transfer constitutes a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention (Article 49 (1) and 147), as well as a crime against humanity upon the Rome Statute (Article 7(1) (d) and 7(2) (d)).
  • Khan al-Ahmar is one of several Bedouin communities located inside the so-called “E1” area; its demolition has important and irreversible implications. Israel’ “E1” plan entails the construction of thousands of additional settlement units in an area between East Jerusalem and the illegal settlement of Maaleh Adumim. This will not only isolate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank physically, but would also create a contiguous series of illegal settlements stretching from East Jerusalem to the Jordanian border, thereby dividing the West Bank into two parts and rendering the viability of an independent State of Palestine virtually impossible. The forced displacement of Bedouin communities located in the so-called “E1” area is thus the first step in the implementation of the “E1” colonial plan. As such, not only the demolition of the community and the forced displacement of its residents is violating the International Law, but will also facilitate the development of yet another grave violation, namely, the building and expanding of illegal settlements.

The map above shows the location of Khan al-Ahmar and the surrounding settlements

  • The Palestinian Government and international and legal actors have long been aware that the Israeli justice system is neither impartial nor a fair arbiter for cases pitting Palestinians against the Israeli Government, and that it issues verdicts that run counter to international law. Previous cases show that appealing to Israeli courts merely delays the demolition of Palestinian infrastructure. Moreover, the Palestinian Government asserts that Israeli courts have no legal jurisdiction over the occupied Palestinian territories, which are not under sovereignty of Israel, and therefore their verdicts are invalid. The legal framework that the Israeli authorities usually use to justify its ‘de facto’ control of the so-called “Area C” is the Interim Oslo Accords, which are expired, and can never replace the International Law and the International Humanitarian Law when the two are at odds.
  • It is right and duty of the Palestinian Government to have full authority over the planning and development of the entire territories of the State of Palestine, including the so-called “Area C”, in order to provide services to all of its citizens equally and ensure that their rights are respected, especially the right to adequate housing. The current permit and planning regime imposed by Israel, the Occupying Power, which is considered an ‘Unlawful Territorial Situation’ upon the International Law, is discriminatory and hinders planning and development rather than facilitating it.

The Palestinian Government took the following several precautionary measures in Khan al-Ahmar Bedouin community, including:

  • The Government approved the establishment of the local authority of Khan al-Ahmar village near Occupied Jerusalem.
  • The Ministry of Education and Higher Education launched the academic school year of 2018/2019 a month earlier in Khan al-Ahmar School, which serves 174 students from the village, other nearby Bedouin communities and the Jordan Valley. In addition, the administrative departments and the directorates of the ministry rotate weekly to work in Khan al-Ahmar seven days a week.
  • The Wall and Settlement Resistance Committee launched “Save Khan al-Ahmar” campaign, in coordination with popular and civil society organizations to defend the village by being on ground 24 hours a day. In addition, the Commission provided food support and other logistics to workers and demonstrates there. It also hired a legal team to lead the legal proceedings while providing all required legal documents regarding the ownership of the land.
  • The Ministry of Health opened a 24-hour health clinic in Khan al-Ahmar, as well as a mobile clinic that provides health services to the people of the community two days a week. The clinic had a medical staff that consisted of a general practitioner, a female doctor and a dermatologist. The Ministry also coordinated with the Jericho Governmental Hospital for transferring patients and providing medical services to citizens around the clock. Moreover, the Ministry carried out precautionary measures in the event of demolition in coordination with a number of institutions working in the humanitarian field to provide Khan al-Ahmar community with another mobile clinic in addition to first aid services in case of urgent medical attention.
  • The Ministry of Agriculture provided Khan al-Ahmar with the basic needs of feed and medicines for livestock. The Ministry will also cooperate with humanitarian institutions to provide the community with tents and fences for their livestock in case of demolition. Yet, it will distribute vouchers to be used in Anata and Jericho, in cooperation with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
  • The Water Authority took precautionary measures in cooperation with humanitarian institutions, which will supply the residents of Khan al-Ahmar with water coupons to get each family 10 Cubic meters. In case of demolition, additional water for livestock will be provided for two months free, and will be delivered by trucking immediately if access to the village was allowed.
  • On September 12, 2019, the Palestinian Government submitted new appeal to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding the crimes of the Israeli occupation related to the illegal demolitions, and forced displacement of the Palestinian citizens of Khan al-Ahmar.

In addition to that, the Palestinian Government reiterated calls upon the international community and the United Nations to:

  • Initiate diplomatic efforts to pressure the Israeli government to cease its forced displacement of the defenseless Palestinian citizens and the unlawful demolitions of Palestinian homes and livelihood structures in the so-called “Area C”.
  • Publicly condemn the verdict of the Israeli Supreme Court, which counters the International Law and sets a dangerous legal precedent for other Palestinian communities threatened with demolition and forced displacement throughout the so-called “Area C” of the West Bank, and also seriously endangers the internationally recognized two-state solution.
  • If Israeli demolitions take place, the Palestinian Government urges the international community to take a series of concrete measures to hold the Israeli government accountable for these grave violations.
  • Fully and publicly, support the right of the Palestinian Government over the planning and development of Palestinian communities throughout the entire State of Palestine.