Palestinians attend a protest against Israel's plans to demolish the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, in the occupied West Bank July 6, 2018..
(photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
Tensions are high as the residents of the unauthorized Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar await two High Court of Justice rulings regarding their forced evacuation and the demolition of their homes.
Police and the Civil Administration officials spent the last three days constructing an access road to the hillside squatters’ village located just off of Route 1, near Kfar Adumim in Area C of the West Bank. Fifty-two families, including 92 children, dwell there in tents and shacks.
The residents, members of the Jahalin tribe, have made two last ditch appeals to the court, which ruled in May that the village could be relocated.
The IDF wants to move the families to permanent homes in the nearby West Bank city of Abu Dis.
Residents of Khan al-Ahmar, meaning the Red Caravansary, want to remain at their present location. Alternatively, some wish to return to their ancestral land near Beersheba from which the IDF deported them to the Jordanian- controlled West Bank in the early 1950s.
Last week attorneys Tawfiq Jabareen, Said Qassem, Alaa Mahajna, Wiam Shbeyta and Adv. Ghiath Nasser appealed to the HCJ to halt the demolitions of the homes and the adjacent Tyre school, in which 150 students are enrolled. The lawyers filed a second petition this week against the evacuation of the residents.
The HCJ issued an injunction until Wednesday to halt the demotions and another one until next Monday to stop the evacuation of the residents.
In the first petition, the attorneys argued the Khan al-Ahmar residents were discriminated against since the Civil Administration had refused to allow their clients to file a building plan for the village at its current location.
In the second petition the lawyers noted that part of the issue was conflicting claims as to whether the property was private land or state land.
The attorneys argued that their clients claim to be living on private property, and that the state does not have the right to evict the residents from private property.
In response to the first petition, the state said that the Khan al-Ahmar residents were attempting to force the court to adjudicate issues which it had already ruled on. The government lawyers said the Civil Administration rejected the residents’ building plans because the documents submitted did not include the necessary proof of land ownership.
Numerous negotiations have been held with the Khan al-Ahmar residents to find alternative housing sites, but at each point, the residents insisted on remaining in the existing location, the state said.
The Khan al-Ahmar residents are waiting for the HCJ response to their second petition.
In the interim, the Palestinian Authority is planning to begin the academic year at the Tyre school this Sunday.
If no action is taken against the village this week, a work dispute between the Civil Administration staff and the Finance Ministry could further delay matters.
The Civil Administration’s workers committee has already announced a list of activities it intends to suspend, including the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar.
Separately the United Nations and the European Union, including many of its member states, have appealed to the Israeli government not to demolish the herding village.