Court: State must explain by May 1 why it failed to evacuate Khan al-Ahmar

At the same time, the justices have urged both the Bedouin community and the state to find an agreed upon alternative location.

Arial view of Khan al-Ahmar and Route 1 (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Arial view of Khan al-Ahmar and Route 1
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
The state must explained by May 1 why it hasn’t evacuated the illegal West Bank herding village of Khan al-Ahmar, the High Court of Justice said last week.
The court issued its order late Tuesday in response to a petition from the right-wing NGO Regavim, which turned to the court asking that force the state to make good on the demolition orders against the village of huts and tents, which is home to 180 members of the Jahalin tribe.
The demolition request also included the elementary school, adjacent to the village. Built with European funds, it is known as the Tyre School.
Regavim told the court that its petition was the fifth against the village, which it called an “outpost” and the school in the last decade.
In May 2018, the High Court ruled that the village and the school could legally be demolished, but it did not insist that they must be removed. As such, no court mandated date was given for an evacuation.
The justices in past remarks have been clear that they do not wish the village to remain at its current location, just off of Route 1, on the outskirts of the Kfar Adumim settlement, in between Jerusalem and Jericho.
At the same time, the justices urged both the Bedouin community and the state to find an agreed-upon alternative location.
The Khan al-Ahmar community, which has been at that location since the 1970s, has insisted that it wants to remain there, but would be willing to move back a short distance from Route 1.
It has also rejected the two alternative sites presented by the state in the same region of Area C outside of Jerusalem where Khan al-Ahmar is located.
The first is located next to garbage dump in a new neighborhood of Abu Dis, called Jahalin West. The second site is next to a waste water treatment plant not far from the settlement of Mitzpe Yeriho.
Former defense minister Avigdor Liberman had been close to evacuating the community in October, but his efforts were thwarted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At the last minute, Netanyahu halted the proceedings, after Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit said that from a legal perspective he needed to make another attempt to come to an agreement with the Khan al-Ahmar residents who are part of the Jahalin tribe.
The decision to delay the demolition also a warning by Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court at The Hague, that such a move could constitute a war crime.
At the time, Netanyahu promised that Khan al-Ahmar would be demolished soon.
“Khan al-Ahmar will be evacuated. It a decision of the court. It our policy and it will be executed,” Netanyahu told his faction in October.
In its petition to the High Court, Regavim stated that it seems as if Netanyahu and defense officials believed they have fulfilled their obligations to the court simply by making declarative statements.
By failing to enforce the land by evacuating Khan al-Ahmar, the state the state is undermining the principle of law and order and eroding the public’s trust in the government and the courts, Regavim stated in its petition.