Under cover of darkness, Israeli soldiers conducted a 5am raid on the Bedouin Palestinian village of Khan Al-Ahmar and demolished five new structures built nearby, confiscating building tools and materials.
Khan Al-Ahmar, in the central West Bank governorate of Jerusalem, is under imminent threat of demolition following a decade-long battle to save the homes and land of its 180 residents.
Just three days ago, around a hundred activists built the new structures overnight just metres from Khan Al-Ahmar, naming the new site Wadi Al-Ahmar and raising the Palestinian flag in defiance of Israel’s colonisation policies. The villagers had hoped to move to Wadi Al-Ahmar if the demolition proceeds.
On September 5, the Israeli High Court denied a petition filed on behalf of the residents of Khan al-Ahmar requesting that Israeli authorities cease their plans to demolish the village and forcibly evict the residents, saying that the injunction preventing the demolition would lapse within seven days.
The implications of the demolition are significant. By demolishing Khan Al-Ahmar, Israel will effectively cut off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. Any subsequent forcible transfer of the Khan Al-Ahmar Bedouin will constitute a war crime under Article 8 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court.
The villagers, Al-Jahhalin Bedouin, were first displaced by Israel from the Naqab (Negev) desert in the early 1950s, and have been subject to racist harassment and resettlement ever since. One of almost 50 West Bank villages under threat of forcible transfer, Khan Al-Ahmar has been subjected to frequent attacks by settlers from the surrounding, unlawfully-built, settlements, which include Kfar Adumin, Ma’ale Adumim, Alon and Nofei Prat.
Around 600,000 Israelis live in over 250 settlements and outposts in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. All Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are considered unlawful under international law, and may constitute a war crime.
Meanwhile, Israeli authorities deny most Palestinian applications for the necessary building permits in Israeli-controlled Area C, which accounts for around 60 per cent of the West Bank, forcing Palestinians to build homes and other essential infrastructure without permission and live under constant threat of demolition. According to B’Tselem, Israel demolished at least 1,342 Palestinian residential units in the West Bank between 2006 and 30 June 2018, displacing 6,024 people including at least 3,040 children.
Earlier this week, five European governments including the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain joined EU High Representative Federica Mogherini in calling on Israel not to demolish Khan Al-Ahmar.