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Khan al-Ahmar

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Looking back on this year, it is difficult to choose one moment, one tragedy, or one political decision that stands out among the rest. Palestinians witnessed a tumultuous year in 2018, as they saw hundreds killed from the West Bank to Gaza, their rights slowly stripped away inside Israel, and the heart of Palestinian identity, Jerusalem, pushed further out of reach. But as evidenced by the ongoing fight for the rights of refugees in Gaza’s Great March of Return, the fight against expulsion in places Silwan and Khan al-Ahmar, and the fight for equal rights as citizens in Israel, the fight for Palestinian rights continued as well.

After nearly two months on high alert, the fear of imminent demolition permanently lingering in the air, the residents of Khan al-Ahmar and the activists supporting them took a collective, albeit temporary, sigh of relief last week.

When news spread that the Israeli government was postponing the demolition of the village until further notice, the Bedouins of Khan al-Ahmar, along with hundreds of activists and Palestinian government officials rejoiced.

Now, as the euphoria of the postponement wears off, the residents of Khan al-Ahmar are back trying to resume their daily lives as normal until the next decision comes.

A tiny Palestinian Bedouin town located in the West Bank hills outside of Jerusalem is bracing for an impending eviction to make way for plans to expand an Israeli settlement. This case has implications far beyond the 32 families who live there and the nearly 200 students who attend the school in the town. If the eviction moves forward, it will pave the way for a Jewish-only settlement bloc to divide the West Bank into two, rendering impossible the creation of a unified Palestinian state in the occupied territory. 

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.

After a long and courageous struggle, the people of Khan Al-Ahmar lost their battle when the Israeli high declared the demolition of their village can go ahead. Jamal Jaheleen, a Palestinian writer and poet who lives in the village of Khan Al-Ahmar, writes, “It is expected, that after many court sessions, after the people of Khan Al-Ahmar refuse all offers from the occupying forces, and insist on their right to remain and defend their village, the bulldozers will come to crush the lingering dream of survival, of preserving the heritage and the very fabric of their identity.”

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. The 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.