Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Entire community threatened with demolition in strategic E1 area

By Sarah Bedson - February 23, 2017
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation] [Features]
Tags: [demolition] [E1]

Khan al-Ahmar, East Jerusalem - In an unprecedented move, Israel issued dozens of stop work orders on Sunday for an entire Palestinian Bedouin village on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Khan al-Ahmar is home to approximately 200 members of the Jahalin Tribe that was displaced in the early 1950s from their land near Tel Arad in the southern Naqab (Negev) desert. The tribe is the largest refugee tribe in the West Bank.
Eid Kahamis Jahalin, a resident of Khan al-Ahmar, explained to Palestine Monitor how large numbers of Civil Administration personnel and police raided the village of Khan al-Ahmar on the 19th of February at around 5am, declared the area a closed military zone, set up military flying checkpoints to prevent entry and exit to the village, and delivered 42 stop work orders, applying to all of the community’s structures, including its school and mosque. Eid explained that these orders caused confusion, as no works are currently underway and there are no new structures in the community.
The Italian-funded school in Khan al-Ahmar was built in 2009 out of mud and tyres to serve 152 children between the ages of 6 and 15 from all nearby communities. Eid explained that if this school were demolished, the nearest alternative would be 15km away. Al’aa Erekat, one of the teachers from the school, said that since its inception, the school had faced many problems with Israel’s threats to demolish it. “It’s very difficult”, she said. “I am worried for the children.”
Minister of Education and Higher Education Sabri Saidam, described the recent events as a 'systematic arbitrary measure’ and appealed to all international bodies to promptly intervene to stop these 'inhumane measures’ and protect the educational process, institutions, and children’s’ right to education from such attacks.
“Palestinian children’s right to education is stronger than the tyranny of occupation,” stressed Saidam.
A lawyer succeeded in getting an injunction for both the school’s and community’s demolition order, with the Israeli High Court demanding an alternative and satisfactory plan to be provided in order to relocate the Bedouins. One of the designated 'relocation’ sites is south of Jericho, and Eid described the suggestion as “Guantanamo for the community.”
Yesterday, villagers were manically trying to collect 1,700 shekels per family and IDs to pay court fees for the court hearing that was due to take place in the High Court in Jerusalem this morning at 10am. “It could go either way at the court but I worry because the Israeli government is backed by Trump now,” Eid said. The court hearing was later postponed for ten days.
Khan al-Ahmar is one of the 46 Bedouin communities that Israeli occupation forces are seeking to forcibly transfer in order to implement its “E1” plan. An abbreviation for East 1, the plan was formulated by former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 and refers to a twelve-kilometre stretch of Area C land situated between the illegal settlement of Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem. The “E1” plan would see the erection of a contiguous bloc of illegal settlements, which would divide the northern and southern West Bank and smother any hopes of the creation of a viable Palestinian state.
Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, director of Jalahin Solidarity, has been involved in fighting the E1 plan since 2005 and spoke about the strategic importance of Khan al-Ahmar, calling its residents the “gatekeepers of the two-state solution.”
PLO representative Hussam Zomlot said that E1 is “the lethal bullet to any peace deal. But the E1 is already unfolding, it’s happening right in front of our eyes.”
Yesterday, the Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and UN Development Activities for the occupied Palestinian territory, Robert Piper, and Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, Scott Anderson, visited the community.
“Khan al Ahmar is one of the most vulnerable communities in the West Bank, struggling to maintain a minimum standard of living in the face of intense pressure from the Israeli authorities to move to a planned relocation site,” said Mr. Piper. “This is unacceptable and it must stop.”
The UN has repeatedly stated that the imposition of the proposed 'relocation’ of communities without their free and informed consent would amount to forcible transfer and eviction, contravening Israel’s obligations as an occupying power under international law.
“The entire existence of this community, the homes, animal sheds and school that we visited today, is under threat. I am gravely concerned about Israel’s continued pressures to force these Bedouin from their homes, destroying their livelihoods and their distinct culture”, said Mr. Anderson. “Many of these Palestine refugee families have already had their homes demolished several times within the last couple of years. I urge the Israeli authorities to halt all plans and practices that will directly or indirectly lead refugees to be displaced once again.”
The events in Khan al-Ahmar are not unique. The Israeli army demolished 872 structures in Area C last year, leaving 6,088 Palestinians homeless. There were 1,633 children among those affected.
In a new report, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Palestinian Territories said the New Year had seen a massive Israeli escalation in the destruction of Palestinian homes and businesses. “During January 2017, OCHA recorded the demolition of 140 structures by the Israeli authorities, displacing around 240 Palestinians and affecting another 4,000,” which was over 50 per cent higher than the monthly average of structures targeted in 2016. OCHA noted that all of these demolitions were carried out in Area C and East Jerusalem on the grounds of the lack of building permits, which are nearly impossible to obtain for Palestinians.

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