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Netanyahu temporarily delays forcible eviction of Khan al-Ahmar

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The Israeli government has postponed the evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar until further notice, following weeks of rising tensions in the Bedouin village.

Following a meeting with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the village will soon be “evacuated,” adding that the government plans on implementing the September High Court decision allowing for the demolition of the village.

“I don’t intend to postpone it until further notice contrary to what has been reported, but [make it happen] within a short, fixed period of time. The duration we will give to evacuate it in consent will be decided by the cabinet,” Netanyahu said.

Later Sunday afternoon, the Israeli news website Haaretz that the Israeli security cabinet approved Netanyahu’s plans to temporarily postpone the demolition “in order to exhaust negotiations with the village residents.”

Haaretz reported that the government is holding off on the forcible evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar for a few weeks, in hopes of negotiating a “voluntary evacuation” with the village’s 200 residents.

The report quoted military sources saying they are ready for the demolition but waiting for orders from political leadership.

Despite previously rejecting the idea of a voluntary evacuation, the villagers are reportedly discussing a proposal for an evacuation to a new location a few hundreds of meters away from the current village site, according to the Haaretz report.

Though the villagers of Khan al-Ahmar have yet to release a statement on their response to the announcement, celebrations erupted in Khan al-Ahmar on Saturday night as activists and locals got word of the delay.

Netanyahu’s announcement came amid backlash from members of his right-wing government, who criticized the decision to postpone the demolition of the village.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman expressed his “resolute opposition” to the delay, while Education Minister Naftali Bennett said his party will “make sure” the demolition happens, despite widespread condemnation from the international community.

Meanwhile, the pro-settler Israeli NGO Regavim announced on Saturday night that it would be holding a demonstration near Khan al-Ahmar on Monday in opposition to Netanyahu’s decision.

“For years, Prime Minister Netanyahu has implemented a policy of selective law enforcement against Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria,” the group said, using the biblical name for the West Bank. “Tonight’s decision reeks of cowardice and makes a laughingstock of Israel’s sovereignty and commitment to law and order.”

Israeli intends on building hundreds of settlement units on the village lands, eventually linking the Jewish colonies of 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.

Israeli policemen scuffle with Palestinian demonstrators in the Bedouin village of al-Khan al-Ahmar east of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank on July 4, 2018. (Photo: Shadi Hatem/APA Images)

Tensions have been high in the village since the High Court gave the green light in September for the government to proceed with the demolition. Activists have noted that court did not order eviction and demolition, but ruled that the village’s structures are “illegal” and may be demolished at the discretion of the state.

In the weeks following the decision, local and international activists have been camping out at the village in anticipation of the demolition, joined by dozens of journalists.

Last week, five people were injured and four activists were arrested by Israeli forces after confrontations broke out in the village.

The Israeli government has maintained that Khan al-Ahmar, which is primarily built out of tin structures and tents, was erected without Israeli-issued building permits on so-called “state lands,” which are nearly impossible to obtain, and it was therefore “illegal” and subject to demolition.

The villagers have fought for years against the government plans to demolish their homes, agricultural structures, and village school, arguing that forcible transfer constitutes a war crime, and relocating them to a site with permanent structures and little land would jeopardize the sustainability of their lifestyle as shepherds.

The government intends on relocating the villagers to the Jabal West site, near the Abu Dis landfill. Israeli authorities have been working at the site for weeks, erecting permanent shelters for the displaced residents of Khan al-Ahmar.


Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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8 Responses

  1. Citizen on October 21, 2018, 11:02 am

    Shepard is not on the list of healthy jobs for 2018 and beyond.

  2. Spring Renouncer on October 21, 2018, 7:47 pm

    If only the Israeli government were as zealous in evicting the illegal squatter settlers who have overrun Palestine!

  3. RoHa on October 22, 2018, 2:38 am

    I fear the people of Khan al-Ahmar will end up more like potsherds than shepherds.

  4. Kay24 on October 22, 2018, 6:43 am

    This is only a temporary move to put up a show of being considerate… will happen eventually.
    The zionists have a nasty plan, and nothing and no one can stop it.

    • Misterioso on October 22, 2018, 10:08 am


      “The zionists have a nasty plan, and nothing and no one can stop it.”

      Correct!! And the “plan” was adopted decades before the rise of Hitler, WWII and the Jewish Holocaust.

      How Theodor Herzl and his fellow Zionists intended to deal with Palestinians was revealed in the “Charter for Zionist Colonization of Palestine and Syria” which he drafted sometime between the summer of 1901 and early 1902. Much to his disappointment, however, he was denied the opportunity to present it to the Ottoman Sultanate. Article Vl of the charter called for Istanbul to grant the Zionists, in the form of the Jewish-Ottoman Land Company (JOLC), “complete autonomy, guaranteed by the Ottoman Empire” while Article III gave them in effect, the right to deport the native population to other areas of the empire. Article 111 “[pertained] to the Palestinian and other Arab owners and inhabitants of the three categories of land to be purchased/owned by the JOLC – the large and small private landholdings, the Sultan’s state domain, and the land for which there is no title.”

      Israel Zangwill, the influential Anglo-Jewish essayist and Zionist first believed that the Palestinians would simply “fold their tents and slip away.” It was Zangwill who first voiced the lie that Palestine was a “land without a people, waiting for a people without a land.” (Zangwill, Israel, “The Return to Palestine”, New Liberal Review 11, Dec. 1901 p 627, quoted by David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch, p. 19)

      In 1905, Zangwill contradicted himself during a talk in Manchester when he observed that Palestine was “already twice as thickly populated as the United States…. [W]e must be prepared to either drive out by the sword the [Arab] tribes in possession as our forefathers did or to grapple with the problem of a large alien population….” (Zangwill, Speeches, p. 210, quoted by Nur Masalah , Expulsion of the Palestinians, 1992, p. 10)

      In the February 1919 issue of the League of Nations Journal, Zangwill proposed that the Palestinians “should be gradually transplanted” in Arab countries and at a public meeting in the same year he remarked that “many [Palestinians] are semi-nomad, they have given nothing to Palestine and are not entitled to the rules of democracy.” (Jewish Chronicle, Dec. 12 1919, quoted by Nur Masalha, Expulsion…, p.14)

      In 1920, Zangwill proposed in The Voice of Jerusalem, that there should be an “‘Arab exodus’…based on ‘race redistribution’ or a ‘trek like that of the Boers from Cape Colony,’ which he advocated as ‘literally the only way out of the difficulty of creating a Jewish State in Palestine.’” He continued: “We cannot allow the Arabs to block so valuable a piece of historic reconstruction….To fold their tents and silently steal away is their proverbial habit: let them exemplify it now.” (Zangwill, The Voice of Jerusalem, p. 103, quoted by Nur Masalha, EOTP pp. 13- 14)

      Other Zionist leaders saw the future Jewish state in Palestine not only free of Arabs, but the first step towards the creation of a much larger country. In 1918, Ben-Gurion described the future borders of the Jewish state as: “to the north, the Litani River; to the northeast, the Wadi’Owja, twenty miles south of Damascus; the southern border will be mobile and pushed into the Sinai at least up to Wadi al-`Arish; and to the east, the Syrian Desert, including the furthest edge of Transjordan.” (Teveth, Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs, pp. 34-34; cited by Nur Masalah, Expulsion of the Palestinians, …, p. 87)

      In 1930, when despite ever increasing immigration during the British Class A Mandate, Jews privately owned only about four per cent of Palestine, Arthur Ruppin, a pivotal figure in political Zionism wrote that displacement of Arab farmers was inevitable because “land is the most necessary thing for our establishing roots in Palestine. Since there are hardly any more arable unsettled lands in Palestine, we are bound in each case of the purchase of land and its settlement to remove the peasants who cultivated the land so far, both owners of the land and tenants.” (Prof. Rashid Khalidi, in Blaming the Victims)

      • Maghlawatan on October 22, 2018, 11:00 am

        The Zionists are stupid:

        -They always wing it
        -Israelis are cheap and lazy
        -They think the goys will allow anything
        – There is no God
        -There is nobody who cares about Israel up in the clouds
        -Producing a dumb population is rilly stupid
        -The Palestinians have all the charisma
        – Yossi Israeli is a loser

      • MHughes976 on October 22, 2018, 1:31 pm

        The Wikipedia article on ‘Land without…’ seems to show that Zangwill was not the inventor of the phrase, probably popularised in and after the 1840s by the motley crew of Alexander Keith, the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury and William Blackstone. Motley but all very Christian and thinking in religious terms which the Jewish Zionists, those stalwarts of modernity and rationalism, tended to avoid or conceal. Zangwill split with mainstream Zionism because he did not accept the 1905 decision that it had to be Palestine, rather than a Jewish homeland elsewhere – his reason was precisely that he did acknowledge the Palestinian population, though in his later years he was at least starting to think in the dreaded terms of population transfer. Zionists always find it hard to comprehend that they are not working for everyone’s good really.

  5. MHughes976 on October 22, 2018, 1:18 pm

    ‘Judaea and Samaria’ can’t really be called ‘the Biblical name for the WB’. In the former scriptures Samaria is a city, not a territory, and it represents evil forces opposed to Jerusalem, where God had caused his name to dwell. The Christian scriptures do just once (Acts 1) use the phrase but with no suggestion that J and S form a unit. The city of Samaria was part of the province of Judaea but it was in many ways a pagan place and to go there was to venture into the non-Jewish world. The ambiguous Simon Magus lurked there. The Zionist ‘Judaea and Samaria’ – like ‘Land of Israel’ – has no real Biblical authority.

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