Friday, October 19, 2018

Updates from Khan al-Ahmar Bedouin village awaiting demolition


By Myriam Purtscher - September 25, 2018
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Bedouin] [E1] [demolition] [Israeli Supreme Court]

After nearly ten years of legal battles, the Israeli court gave the green light for the military to demolish the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar on 5 September.

Israel has given the Bedouin community until October 1 to demolish their own homes and evacuate, with a demolition notice handed over to the residents on 23 September stating; “If you refuse, the authorities will enforce demolition orders as per court decision and the law.”
 
Located east of Jerusalem, inside the West Bank Area C, the forceful eviction of the 180 residents is tantamount to a 'war crime’.
 
“With this shameful and manifestly unlawful ruling the Supreme Court has confirmed a pattern of complicity in the crime of forcible transfer of Palestinian communities for the expansion Jewish only settlements,” Saleh Higazi, Head of Office in Jerusalem for Amnesty International said in their official statement.
 
The Palestinian Authority said in a statement the decision to raze Khan al-Ahmar village consolidates Israel's "colonial project" of building "an arc of settlements" which will effectively cut off occupied East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and divide the West Bank in two.
 
However, Israel argues Khan al-Ahmar was built illegally in Area C land - the area which is under full Israeli civil and military control - without a permit. An excuse Israel often uses to demolish Palestinian structures and institutions with impunity.
 
Activist camp bulldozed
 
Israeli forces have already torn down a makeshift camp named 'Wadi al-Ahmar’ set up by Palestinian activists protesting the planned demolition during a morning raid on September 13.
 
The structures were to house activists, who hoped that they could be used as temporary homes for the Bedouins of Khan al-Ahmar following the demolition of the village.
 
Walid Assaf, head of the Commission Against the Wall and Settlements told Al Jazeera they hope the destruction of the makeshift camp satisfies the Israeli military.
 
“It was not our battle to fight, defending the empty houses. Our battle is to defend the houses of Khan al-Ahmar," Assaf said.
 
Protesters arrested
 
Amongst the five protesters arrested during demonstrations at Khan al-Ahmar on September 14 was French-US born law professor Frank Romano.
 
According to Middle East Eye, Romano was trying to block bulldozers sent in by Israeli authorities to seal off an access road to the village.
 
Romano was originally facing immediate deportation; however, the Israeli courts have revoked his deportation sentence allowing him to stay in Israeli until his original return flight.
 
EU condemnation
 
The EU has condemned the Israeli court’s decision, stating it constitutes a grave violation of international law and threatens peace efforts with the Palestinians.
 
In a ruling on September 13, the European Parliament, passed a resolution against Israel that called for monetary compensation for financial losses should Khan al-Ahmar village be demolished.
 
“Ten EU Member States are supporting humanitarian programs in Khan al-Ahmar, including the construction of a primary school, and an estimated 315,000 Euros worth of EU-funded humanitarian assistance is now at risk,” the resolution stated.
 
“Should the demolition and eviction of Khan al-Ahmar take place, the EU’s response must be commensurate with the seriousness of this development and consistent with its long-standing support to the community of Khan al-Ahmar,” it added.
 
Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain have also issued a renewed call for Israel not to demolish the village, warning of the ramifications it would have on the prospect of a two-state solution as well as the impact it would have on the residents.
 
Pushing the ICC
 
In the meantime, the PLO has filed claim to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, urging chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to meet with the council of Khan Al-Ahmar and look into “Israeli war crimes”.
 
Saed Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said in an official Tweet, "we hope that an official judicial investigation can be opened as soon as possible.”
 
However, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has praised the Israeli court's decision to raze the village, and has yet to respond to the global criticism.
 
"Khan al-Ahmar will be evacuated. I congratulate the Supreme Court judges for their brave decision. Nobody [is] above law. Nobody can prevent us from consolidating our sovereignty," Lieberman said.

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