The illegal Palestinian Bedouin herding village of Khan al-Ahmar received a last minute reprieve over the weekend when the High Court of Justice issued a temporary injunction just as the IDF had begun preparations for its demolition.
The United Nations and the European Union had appealed to the Israeli government to halt the destruction of the village, located on state land off Route 1 near the Kfar Adumim settlement.
Its fate, along with that of the illegal Palestinian herding village of Sussiya, has been debated in the UN Security Council, the UN Human Rights Council and the British Parliament.
International reaction against the decision intensified after IDF bulldozers began arriving at the village on Wednesday to open up dirt roads for bulldozers and trucks.
In response, a number of European countries, including Great Britain, submitted a formal letter of protest to Israel.
Protesters have also flocked there since mid-week and the ensuing clashes were publicized on social media.
Five attorneys – Tawfiq Jabareen, Said Qassem, Alaa Mahajna, Wiam Shbeyta and Adv. Ghiath Nasser – temporarily brought the drama to a halt with a petition they filed last week to the High Court of Justice alleging discriminatory building practices with regard to Khan al-Ahmar.
In the petition, Mahajna argued that the village had attempted to file a building plan that would have allowed its families to remain in their current location, but the Civil Administration refused to accept it.
Late Thursday night, the High Court ordered the state to reply by July 11. Previous appeals to the court against state plans to destroy the village and its adjacent school had failed.
Israel said it plans to relocate the 52 families to permanent homes near a landfill about 12 kilometers away, near the Palestinian town of Abu Dis.
The families, who are part of the Jahalin tribe, want to remain where they are.
Israel relocated them in the early 1950s from the Beersheba area to the West Bank, which at the time was under Jordanian rule.
Protests against the demolition continued at the village on Friday where hundreds gathered for the noon prayer. A small number of protesters holding Palestinian flags temporarily blocked traffic on Route 1.
On Thursday, the UN said that Israel has increased its activities against West Bank Palestinian and Bedouin herding villages since July 1, removing at least 19 structures and displacing 59 Bedouins and Palestinians, including 37 children.
Nine of the tents and shacks that were razed were located in the Palestinian Bedouin village of Abu Nuwar, located near Khan al-Ahmar.
One home was destroyed in the illegal Palestinian village of Sussiya, according to the UN.
West Bank UNRWA head Scott Anderson said: “The latest developments are of serious concern, as it is evident that they are undertaken with the objective of relocating the concerned communities, as well as causing serious distress to the vulnerable residents who are watching what appear to be preparations for the demolition of their community.”
“These pastoral communities are mostly Palestinian refugees – originally displaced from their tribal lands in the Negev. They should not be forced to experience a second displacement against their will,” he added.
The UN and the EU have assisted the West Bank Palestinian and Bedouin communities out of a belief that housing is a basic human right and out of a frustration that the Civil Administration grants only a few building permits in Area C of the West Bank.
Right-wing Israelis and politicians, however, said they were frustrated by the European reaction and the High Court injection, particularly their lack of empathy for settlers whose homes were demolished as the result of court rulings.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein tweeted: “You celebrate when the High Court of Justice ordered the demolition of a Jewish community in Judea and Samaria, but when a Bedouin village is destroyed [the attitude is], ‘God forbid.’ This is hypocrisy.”
The right-wing NGO Regavim charged that European countries had colluded with the Palestinian Authority to take control of the Ma’aleh Adumim area by helping to finance building in Khan al-Ahmar.
“European countries initiated and funded illegal construction throughout this area, with the stated goal of assisting the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to seize control of the Ma’aleh Adumim region and establishing facts on the ground in the service of a de facto Palestinian state.
“The case of Khan al-Ahmar has become a litmus test for the State of Israel. The government must take a firm stand in the face of the pressure campaign that is being waged against it, and complete the relocation of the residents of this illegal outpost,” Regavim said.
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