Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to raise the issue of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar with her Israeli counterpart, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a bilateral meeting Wednesday evening, after residents of the village asked her to place pressure on Israeli authorities in order to stop the demolition.
On Tuesday the villagers of Khan al-Ahmar gathered to protest the imminent demolition of their town in the Occupied West Bank carrying photos of Angela Merkel, asking her to intercede in an attempt to demolish and forcibly displace 180 Bedouins of the Jhalin tribe. The children carried signs with phrases like “save our school” and “save Khan al-Ahmar.”
The European Union has adopted a strong stance against Israel’s decision to demolish Khan al-Ahmar, describing it as a war crime and a violation of International Humanitarian Law, which prohibits an occupying power from forcibly displacing the population under occupation.
Despite warnings by the EU and international human rights organizations, Israel has insisted it has the right to demolish the village, alleging it was illegally built. However, Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups have explained that Israeli policy makes it nearly impossible for Palestinians to get building permits.
In late September, Israeli occupation forces gave out notices urging the residents of Khan al-Ahmar to demolish their own houses before the Oct. 1 deadline when the army would demolish any remaining houses and evict the residents by force.
The Oct. 1 deadline passed without any demolitions. The Middle East Monitor attributed this to Merkel’s visit. “Israel’s Army Radio is reported to have been instructed by Merkel’s office that if the Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar was evacuated before her trip, she would cancel her visit,” the site wrote.
Germany has issued several calls to block the eviction and is expected to bring up the issue during their dinner Wednesday night.
A military spokeswoman said no date had been set for demolition, but pro-Palestinian activists believe the eviction of the town’s residents will be carried out after Merkel leaves Israel Thursday.
Khan al-Ahmar is located in the West Bank governorate of East Jerusalem and lies between two illegal Israeli settlements (Ma’ale Adumim and Kfar Adumim). Activists and residents argue the demolition of their village is part of a plan to connect these two settlements with the occupied city of Jerusalem and cut the West Bank in two, destroying the possibility of a two-state solution.
Residents of Khan al-Ahmar have denounced harassment by settlers for years. In the past weeks, they have been emboldened by the court order paving the way for the demolition of their village. On Tuesday, they reported that settlers deliberately released wastewater, flooding parts of the village.
A settlement spokeswoman said the spill was unintentional. However, these types of tactics have been reported throughout Palestinian villages in the West Bank that are near illegal Israeli settlements.