Israel said Sunday that it would put the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar on hold for “a number of weeks”. Khan al-Ahmar, the Palestinian Bedouin village in the Occupied West Bank, housing a mere population of 180 villagers, has been in the middle of a major international debate in recent months.
Israel has threatened the demolition of the village as it is built “illegally” i.e. without the permission of Israel authority. But the Palestinians maintain that getting a permission from Israel to build houses is nearly impossible and rare.
Palestinians believe that the plan to demolish Khan al-Ahmar is mean to build Greater Jerusalem which would bifurcate East Jerusalem from West Bank, according to the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
Israel plans to relocate the residents of Khan al-Ahmar to a site 12 kilometers away, near the Palestinian village of Abu Dis and adjacent to a landfill site. This has raised criticism from Palestinians, who warn the proposed location is unsuitable as it poses a health risk.
The villagers were given till Oct. 1 to evacuate the village voluntarily or be forcibly removed by Israeli forces. Since then, the site has gained international attention with many players requesting Israel not to demolish the village.
Although last week, Israeli forces entered the village with three bulldozers to level the ground and prepare it for demolition, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a “short, fixed period of time” postponement. The announcement came after the meeting of the PM’s security cabinet.
"I don't intend to postpone it until further notice contrary to what has been reported, but [make it happen] within a short, fixed period of time. The duration we will give to evacuate it in consent will be decided by the cabinet,” said Netanyahu. “This is the decision of the court, this is our policy and it will be implemented.”
In a statement released by the office, earlier Sunday read, "The intention [of the postponement] is to give a chance to the negotiations and the offers we received from different bodies, including in recent days."
Netanyahu claimed the eviction had been postponed and an alternative relocation plan was being considered, in coordination with the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry, commenting on those remarks in a statement, dismissed the postponement as “nothing more than an Israeli attempt to calm foreign and local criticism”.
On Wednesday, the International Criminal Court Chief prosecutor warned Israel that demolition Khan al-Ahmar would constitute a war crime according to the Rome Statute of ICC to which Israel is a signatory but it has not ratified.