The Israeli High Court rejected on Wednesday petitions filed by the Bedouins of Khan al-Ahmar against the demolition of the village, paving the way for Israel to demolish the entire community any time after September 12.
Wednesday’s decision was the final greenlight for the government to forcibly evacuate and destroy Khan al-Ahmar, a project that it has been pursuing for years in order to create a bloc of illegal Israeli settlements in the area.
Khan al-Ahmar, which is home to some 200 Palestinian Bedouins, sits in the “E1 area” of the central occupied West Bank, directly in the path of the West Bank settlements — Kfar Adumim and Maale Adumim — that Israel hopes to annex and connect with occupied East Jerusalem.
Right-wing Israeli lawmakers welcomed the ruling, which came after months of condemnations from the EU and international human rights organizations.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman celebrated the decision on Twitter, where he said:
חאן אל אחמר יפונה! אני מברך את שופטי בג"צ על החלטה אמיצה ומתבקשת- אל מול מתקפת צביעות מתוזמרת של אבו-מאזן, השמאל ומדינות אירופה. איש אינו מעל לחוק. אף אחד לא ימנע מאיתנו לממש את ריבונותנו ואחריותנו כמדינה.
— אביגדור ליברמן (@AvigdorLiberman) September 5, 2018
“Khan al-Ahmar will be evicted! I congratulate the judges of the High Court of Justice for a courageous and obvious decision – in the face of a concerted hypocritical assault by Abu Mazen, the left and the European countries. No one is above the law. No one will prevent us from exercising our sovereignty and our responsibility as a state.”
Israel’s right wing government has argued that Khan al-Ahmar — which is primarily built out of tin structures — was constructed without nearly impossible to obtain Israeli-issued building permits on so-called “state lands,” therefore rendering it “illegal” and subject to demolition.
The villagers, however, argue that the borderlines of Area C — the area of the West Bank that was designated under the Oslo Accords as being under full Israeli security and civilian control — were instead imposed on them after the village had been around for decades.
The Bedouins of Khan al-Ahmar are part of the Jahalin tribe, who are native to what is now the Negev desert in southern Israel. Like some 750,000 other Palestinians, they were forcibly displaced from their homeland in 1948 when Israel was created, and moved to where they currently live.
Israel plans on demolishing the makeshift homes, agricultural structures, and school in Khan al-Ahmar in order to build hundreds of settlement units on the village lands, eventually linking Kfar Adumim and Maale Adumim with East Jerusalem — a move that critics say would effectively split the West Bank in half and make a future contiguous Palestinian state impossible.
The state plans on forcibly transferring the villagers to a site 12km away called “Jabal West,” which is located adjacent to the Abu Dis landfill. The villagers argue that, not only does forcible transfer constitute as a war crime, but relocating them to a site permanent structures and little land would jeopardize their lifestyle as shepherds.
In a scathing condemnation of the decision, Israeli NGO B’Tselem criticized the justices for describing in their ruling “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 statement continued:
>> 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 Court Justices will be among those who will bear responsibility for this war crime.
— B'Tselem בצלם بتسيلم (@btselem) September 5, 2018