Amnesty International called upon Israeli authorities, on Friday, to immediately cancel plans to demolish the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar and the forcible eviction of its Bedouin community, describing the Israeli plans as a war crime.
Residents of the village are set to be transferred to a site near the former Jerusalem municipal garbage dump near the town of Abu Dis.
“Last week’s outrageous decision by the Supreme Court to allow the Israeli army to demolish the entire village of Khan al-Ahmar was a devastating blow to the families who have spent nearly a decade campaigning and fighting a legal battle to remain on their land and maintain their way of life. Going ahead with the demolition is not only cruel, it would also amount to forcible transfer, which is a war crime,” said Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Magdalena Mughrabi.
Khan al-Ahmar is inhabited by about 180 residents from the Jahalin Bedouin tribe. It is surrounded by several illegal Israeli settlements east of Jerusalem.
For more than 60 years, members of the Jahalin Bedouin tribe have been struggling to maintain their way of life. Forced from their lands in the Naqab desert in the 1950s, they have been continually harassed, pressured and resettled by successive Israeli governments.
In late August 2017, Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman announced that the Israeli government would evacuate the entire community within several months. On May 24, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of demolishing the entire village of Khan al Ahmar, including its school.
The court ruled that the village was built without relevant building permits, even though these are impossible for Palestinians to obtain in the Israeli-controlled areas of the West Bank known as Area C.
“The Israeli authorities have shattered thousands of Palestinian lives, exposing men, women and children to years of trauma and anxiety through their deeply discriminatory policy of first denying building permits, and then bulldozing people’s homes, schools, and herding structures,” said Magdalena Mughrabi.
“Instead of consistently punishing Palestinians for building without permits, the Israeli authorities must stop their construction and expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank as a first move towards removing Israeli civilians living in such settlements.”
“The Supreme Court’s ruling is extremely dangerous and may set a precedent for other communities that oppose Israeli plans to relocate them to urban centres. The Israeli authorities must abide by their international legal obligations and abandon any plans to forcibly transfer Khan al-Ahmar and any other communities.”