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  • Israeli policemen detain a Palestinian girl in the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar near Jericho in the Occupied West Bank.

    Israeli policemen detain a Palestinian girl in the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar near Jericho in the Occupied West Bank. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 September 2018
Opinion

Destroying the Bedouin village, which houses the Jahalin tribe, will allow the Israeli government to cut the West Bank in two. It would cut off East Jerusalem from the West Bank.

Israeli forces handed out notices Sunday ordering the residents of Khan al-Ahmar to leave their homes by Oct. 1, or be forcibly removed.

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"By the High Court decision you must demolish all buildings within the Khan al-Ahmar no later than 1 October 2018," the letter said. "If you refuse, the authorities will enforce demolition orders as per court decision and the law."

Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin village in the Occupied West Bank with a mere population of 180 people, is situated a few kilometers from Jerusalem between two major illegal Israeli settlements, namely, Maale Adumim and Kfar Adumim.

The villagers have already been expelled from their lands in the Naqab desert by the Israeli military in the 1950s. Following that, they were internally displaced twice more before settling in Khan al-Ahmar long before illegal settlements around it started. The 1993 Oslo Accords classified the village as Area C which accounts for 60 percent of the West Bank under complete Israeli administrative and security control.

The villagers will be evicted from their homes which are basically tents and shacks because the Israeli authority deemed the village as illegal i.e., built without Israel’s permission. As per Palestinians, obtaining a permit from Israel is impossible as the Israeli authority rarely approves permit requests by Palestinians. According to U.N. figures, Israel approved only 1.5 percent of all permit requests by Palestinians between 2010 and 2014.

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.

On Sept. 5, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected appeals against demolition. A statement from Israeli defense ministry said, “Pursuant to a supreme court ruling, residents of Khan al-Ahmar received a notice today requiring them to demolish all the structures on the site by October 1st, 2018.”

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The move by the Israeli authority has been criticized internationally. Eight European Union members Thursday declared their opposition to Israel’s planned demolition of the village. Belgium, France, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy published a statement condemning the move. Earlier, a delegation from the European Parliament visited Khan al-Ahmar and warned Israel that its delegation could be considered a war crime.

"The forceful transfer of people under occupation is a serious violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and is considered a war crime. The delegation supports the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice and for self-determination and opposes at the same time the Israeli occupation and apartheid," Neoklis Sylikiotis, chairman of the EP delegation, said.

"We consider this demolition as another step towards the building of Greater Jerusalem," The Palestinian Liberation Organisation and Colonization and Wall Resistance Commission said in a statement Sunday condemning Israel's decision to demolish Khan al-Ahmar. "This move gives further proof that Israel is intending to take over the whole of the Jordan valley."

Since July, the fate of Khan al-Ahmar and its residents have been precarious as Israeli bulldozers destroyed a number of tents and other structures belonging to activists who have been camping there in solidarity with the village's natives. In Early September, Israeli military shut all roads leading to the village.

Despite the precarity, the residents of the village will not leave voluntarily. Village spokesman Eid Abu Khamis told Al-Jazeera, “No one will leave. We will have to be expelled by force… We are staying on our land we will not leave only by force.”

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