Israeli court approves demolition of Khan al-Ahmar

12:00 Sep 5 2018 Khan al-Ahmar

Scene. Published by Maan News

Women and children walk through the Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar, West Bank, July 12, 2018. Credit: Emil Salman. Published by Haaretz

Khan al-Ahmar, this week. Credit: AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP. Published by Haaretz

Map. Published by Haaretz

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Head of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Committee against the Wall and Settlements, Walid Assaf, declared on Wednesday the beggining of an open sit-in at the Khan al-Ahmar village east of the Jerusalem district in the central West Bank protesting the Israeli decision to demolish it.

Assaf's decision came after the Israeli High Court rejected an appeal against the demolition of the village and ruled for its evacuation and demolition to take place within 7 days.

Assaf pointed out that there are not any legal procedures that could be taken following this order, adding that the only choice at this point is mass presence at Khan al-Ahmar to prevent the demolition.

The Palestinian government said in a statement that it "deplores the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court, backed by the Israeli right-wing government to give the occupation forces the authority to commit an International crime by forcibly displacing and transferring 180 Palestinian citizens of Khan al-Ahmar village, east of occupied Jerusalem."

Spokesperson of the Palestinian government, Youssef al-Mahmoud, said that "demolishing Khan al-Ahmar and displacing its residents is ethnic cleansing."

Al-Mahmoud added that "this policy aims to force the original people of this land to leave their land and homes and therefore it is an actual implementation of ethnic cleansing.

He called upon the international community to hold its responsibility towards the Palestinian people and end Israeli attempts to undermine international efforts to bring peace, security and stability to this region.

Spokesperson of the Fatah movement, Usama al-Qawasmi, said that the court ruling is political, racist and violates all international laws.

Al-Qawasmi added that the ruling is also an assault to the original owners of the land.

He called upon Palestinians to gather and defend Khan al-Ahmar against the "barbaric" decision of the Israeli authorities.

The B'Tselem human rights organization said in a statement titled "The Supreme (High) Court in the Service of the Occupation," that "in their ruling, Justices Amit, Meltzer, and Baron described an imaginary world with an egalitarian planning system that takes into account the needs of the Palestinians, as if there had never been an occupation.

"The reality is diametrically opposed to this fantasy: Palestinians cannot build legally and are excluded from the decision-making mechanisms that determine how their lives will look. The planning systems are intended solely for the benefit of the settlers."

B'Tselem also said that "this ruling shows once again that those under occupation cannot seek justice in the occupier's courts. If the demolition of the community of Khan al-Ahmar goes ahead, the Supreme (High) Court Justices will be among those who will bear responsibility for this war crime."

Khan al-Ahmar has been under threat of demolition by Israeli forces; the demolition would leave more than 35 Palestinian families displaced, as part of an Israeli plan to expand the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Kfar Adummim.

Last month, residents of the village had declared the they would not leave their village or agree to be transferred anywhere else. Prior to that, the Israeli High Court had held a hearing session to discuss the appeal submitted by a Palestinian lawyer on behalf of Khan al-Ahmar residents against their displacement and the demolition of their village.

Israel's Top Court Okays Eviction of West Bank Bedouin Village of Khan al-Ahmar

Justices state that the main issue is not whether the eviction can be executed, but where to relocate the residents. The UN calls on Israel to cease demolitions, which 'are against international law'

by Yotam Berger and Jack Khoury for Haaretz
Sep 05, 2018 12:00 PM

The High Court of Justice denied a petition on Wednesday that had been filed by the residents of the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar and gave the state the green light to evacuate the entire village.

The village had been built on state-owned land and its houses were constructed without permits. Khan al-Ahmar had been slated to be evacuated last month before the eviction of its residents was halted by the court to consider the petitions.

Justices Hanan Melcer, Yitzhak Amit and Anat Baron said the main issue in the case was not whether the eviction could be carried out, but where the residents would be relocated.

In turning down the petitioners, the court also rescinded the temporary injunctions issued in July that had barred authorities from proceeding with the evictions. Justice Melcer added, however, that unlike the eviction of Jewish residents of the illegal outpost of Amona last year, which proceeded as soon as it was ordered, in this case, no immediate eviction was required, and a future date could be set at the government's discretion. Technically the ruling allows the state to evict the villagers within seven days.

Wednesday's court session discussed a petition against the wording of the eviction order and one claiming the Israeli Civil Administration had not examined the residents' request to legalize the village, which was filed shortly before the appeal.

Analysis: Khan al-Ahmar Ruling Gives Green Light for Mass Expulsion of Bedouin Villages

MK Ayelet Shaked’s threat worked to a certain extent - but so did the court policy

by Amira Hass for Haaretz
Sep 06, 2018 6:14 PM

Presumably, Minister Ayelet Shaked’s threats influenced to some extent the High Court of Justice’s ruling on Wednesday, which authorized the demolition on Wednesday of the West Bank Bedouin village Khan al-Ahmar.

Bedouin community attorneys submitted three petitions on behalf of the Jahalin Bedouin residents. They gave the court some leeway to avoid the ruling, but the judges chose not to use it.

One should bear in mind, however, that the High Court approved the demolition of several other Jahalin Bedouin encampments, to enable the expansion of the Maale Adumim settlement, already in the mid-90s when the “Oslo” government was in power and then Justice Minister David Libai was no threat to the court.

Little attention was given to the eviction at the time – the Oslo euphoria overshadowed it. These communities’ deportees today live in a poverty-stricken township (al Jabel) near the Abu Dis garbage dump, which serves Maale Adumim. Their way of life, livelihood and women’s status in the tribe suffered a harsh setback due to the forced move.

In contrast to the negative reputation it received from Habayit Hayehudi party and other rightist-religious circles, the High Court has refrained from the beginning of the West Bank’s occupation to intervene in Israel’s settlement policy and its taking over Palestinian lands. After all, forcible eviction of Bedouin and other Palestinian shepherd communities from villages and residential sites, where they resided before the occupation, or the sweeping construction bans imposed on them, are the other side of the settlement policy.

Over the past 20 years, and after setting up Al Jabel, planning and legal procedures taken by the Bedouins’ lawyers prevented the demolition of simple housing structures, also by means of temporary court orders, and held up the expulsion of some 20 other communities in the region to permanent housing sites.

The forceful American objection in the past to Israel’s expansion plans in the area between Maale Adumim and Jerusalem (area E1) certainly helped to put off the expulsions. But all the High Court panels that heard the Bedouin’s petitions refused to address the fundamental, arguments in principle raised for years by the veteran lawyer Shlomo Lecker and others. The lawyers maintained that these communities have lived there long before the settlements were built, that the population is protected according to international law and that the authorities are practicing blatant discrimination by approving planning and construction for Jews, citizens of the occupying state, while preventing planning and construction from the original population.

The justices ignored these facts. So they approved, for example, in 2009, to demolish the cave village Khirbet Tana, east of Beit Furik village, which was created decades before the State of Israel was established. The court accepted the argument that the village’s lands were declared a closed military area, destined for training, and authorized new demolitions after the residents had rebuilt their homes on their land.

Now there is no longer any danger that the American administration knows, or cares, why its predecessors objected to annexing area E1. The justices were given a way out of their last ruling by the present team of Jahalin lawyers, headed by Tawfiq Jabarin, even without having to resort to the equality principle.

One leeway was a fundamental flaw in the process by which the civil administration rejected the Jahalin’s detailed master plan. Justice Hanan Melcer mentioned it. The justices could also have used the fact that the prosecution and civil administration tried to conceal from them that one of the permanent site options they were offering the Bedouin was too close to a large sewage treatment site, a proximity that is forbidden.

The justices could have also wondered why so far no use had been made of the private land of Anata village, which had been expropriated for “military needs” in the mid-70s and is where the Jahalin tribe lives. The justices could have paid attention to the argument that the community hadn’t deliberately settled near a main road, but that the authorities had widened the main road until it bordered on the communities’ homes.

To what extent Shaked’s threat worked here, or whether it was the High Court’s tradition of not intervening in the settlement policy that affected the ruling is anyone’s guess.

The justices’ ruling on Wednesday ended a chapter in the state’s war of attrition against the Bedouin. The state has consistently narrowed their grazing areas since the 70s, blocked their access to water sources and insistently refused to let them build and connect to water and electricity infrastructures according to their natural growth and changing needs. The civil administration’s inspectors raided their communities systematically and frequently demolished structures. Now a new chapter has begun in the war of attrition, because the Khan al-Ahmar community is determined not to live beside a garbage dump or near sewage ponds.

In their ruling to authorize the village’s demolition the justices have given the state a green light to embark on a campaign of mass destruction and deportation of some 20 other Bedouin communities in the same area.

The Regavim NGO, the Kfar Adumim and Maale Adumim settlements and the Foreign Affairs and Defense sub-committee for West Bank settlement, headed by MK Moti Yogev, can certainly celebrate. This was the goal of their intense efforts in the past decade - to turn the Bedouin communities in the area into “invaders” that sabotage the settlements’ expansion.

The community that built a school from tires had become the flagship of the struggle against banishing Palestinians from area C. This is precisely why the right wing and civil administration’s planning and supervising institutions concentrated their efforts against it, and succeeded.
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