Regavim asks court to order Khan al-Ahmar evacuation

The request to order the evacuation comes after the state failed to submit a relocation plan for the illegally-built Bedouin herding community.

 Palestinians and activists shout slogans during a protest outside the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar on January 30, 2022, which Israeli authorities plan to relocate. (photo credit: FLASH90)
Palestinians and activists shout slogans during a protest outside the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar on January 30, 2022, which Israeli authorities plan to relocate.
(photo credit: FLASH90)

The right-wing Regavim NGO asked the High Court of Justice on Sunday to order the evacuation of the small illegally built Bedouin herding village of Khan al-Ahmar after the state failed to submit a relocation plan for the community.

“The High Court must shut down this circus act and issue a final judgment that sets a deadline by which the illegal compound must be evacuated and demolished,” said attorney Avi Segal, who represents Regavim in this case.

The small hamlet is located off of Route 1, just outside of the West Bank Kfar Adumim settlement, on the road between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. Regavim began a legal battle against the hamlet of some 180 members of the Abu Dahuk clan from the Jahalin tribe in 2009.

The latest ruling on the case was in 2018, when the High Court of Justice said security forces could demolish the small village of huts and tents but did not mandate that it do so. Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had pledged to do so but then reneged on that promise after the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor warned that razing the homes could be considered a war crime.

In 2019, Regavim petitioned the court, asking that it force the state to take action. The state in its responses to the court had asked for a series of delays, the result both of government instability and its desire to seek the consent of the Khan al-Ahmar residents for a resolution plan.

 A Palestinian man gestures as Israeli policemen stand guard in the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar that Israel plans to demolish, in the West Bank October 16, 2018. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN) A Palestinian man gestures as Israeli policemen stand guard in the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar that Israel plans to demolish, in the West Bank October 16, 2018. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

What is the history of Khan al-Ahmar?

The Khan al-Ahmar residents who have had an encampment at the site since at least the 1970s have so far refused to move to another location.

In March, the court gave the state until July 13 to explain why it had not evacuated the village. The timing fell just as Prime Minister Yair Lapid took office, replacing Naftali Bennett.

According to Regavim, there was no response from the state and the court is now in recess until September 5.

“The state did not even go to the trouble of responding or appealing to the court for more time,” Regavim said.

Segal said, “[The] state is trying to avoid making a decision and is hoping to use a shameful bureaucratic trick to eke out an additional 45-day extension, turning the 120-day extension into 165 days.”

Both the NGO and right-wing politicians have speculated that a plan is in the works to relocate the village to the other side of Route 1.

The Abu Dahuk clan lived in the Negev until the early 1950s when it was forcibly expelled by Israel into the West Bank, which at the time was under Jordanian rule. The Khan al-Ahmar residents have in the past submitted a number of master plans to the Civil Administration that would authorize the village. All of them have been rejected.