Israel forces arrived this morning to two Palestinian-Bedouin villages and began razing buildings in preparation for taking over the land, alarming human rights groups who say such a move would effectively cut the West Bank into two.
The villages Khan al-Ahmar, and Abu Nuwar are home to just around 2,000 Bedouins, but the impact of their removal would be lasting, making a Palestinian state no longer possible, advocates of the two-state solution warned.
Today, bulldozers demolished nine homes and three farm buildings in Abu Nuwar and clashed with Bedouin residents in Khan al-Ahmar. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society Israeli police injured 35, of whom 4 were hospitalized. Founder of Rabbis for Human Rights, Rabbi Arik Ascherman posted a video of the encounter on social media, writing, “You can see some of the violence at the end of this video. My battery died, and I didn’t get the worst of it. The police were swinging wildly and kicking viciously, until their commanding officer got ahold of them.”
Activists on the ground say they fear the demolitions of the towns will be completed overnight, in darkness and after media and European consular officials, who were on site today, head home.
Angela Godfrey-Goldstein who heads the group Jahalin Solidarity told Mondoweiss, “This demolition is Trump’s gift to Netanyahu for July Fourth. But it has backfired. I don’t think Trump understands what he has set in motion, which is why it’s so dangerous.” She warned the eviction would move Israel onto a path of “full fledged apartheid statehood, with no sustainable future ahead. So it’s suicidal.”
Also this morning Israeli authorities were spotted at Jabal West with construction materials. Jabal West is a proposed relocation site outfitted with an apartment building and buffered by a city dump. Spokesperson for the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem Amit Gilutz said in a statement that demolishing the Bedouin towns and then moving them to another location constitutes forcible transfer, a violation of international law.
“No military order or court ruling can make the transfer of these residents lawful or moral. Forcible transfer of Palestinian communities is a war crime, and all who are involved in approving or implementing it bear personal liability,” Gilutz said.
While demolitions were on-going today the UK’s Parliament met for an emergency discussion on the demolitions. Lawmakers from Britain’s Labour party called for a decisive response, weighing recognizing Palestinian statehood and banning trade with Israeli companies that operate in the settlements.
Labour party parliamentarian Richard Burden said, “Speaking plainly, it is state sponsored theft. A theft that will cut the West Bank into two, making a continuous Palestinian state near impossible and the prospects of a two state solution so more remote.”
Bedouins Khan al-Ahmar and Abu Nuwar are from the Jahalin tribe, Palestinian herders and shepherds who lived in lands that became southern Israel until the 1950s. At that time Israel’s military government transferred them to the hilltops outside of Jerusalem, where they live today.
Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement today that the demolitions are taking place because Israel aims to evict the Bedouins and move Israeli settlers onto the land.
“Words of warning to Israel are not enough. If there is no serious intervention from the international community towards the Israeli government and its belligerent military occupation, other villages will be next, and more Palestinian men, women and children will be displaced for another 70 years to come,” she said.