Defense Ministry officials handed out notices in a Bedouin village in the West Bank on Sunday, warning residents that they have until the end of the month to demolish all buildings in the hamlet. Otherwise, the notices said, state authorities would do so.
“In accordance with the High Court of Justice decision, you are asked to demolish all buildings in Khan al-Ahmar no later than October 1, 2018,” read notices distributed by workers of the Civil Administration, the Defense Ministry body that governs construction in the West Bank.
“If you refuse to do so, local authorities will enforce the demolition orders in accordance with the ruling of the court. Any citizen who wishes to receive assistance in demolishing or transporting [property] is welcome to contact the Jerusalem District Coordination and Liaison Office by said date.”
The notices followed a ruling from the High Court of Justice earlier this month that rejected a final appeal from Khan al-Ahmar residents to prevent the demolition of their village in a case that has drawn international condemnation of Israel.
قوات الاحتلال تسلم أهالي الخان الاحمر إخطارات بهدم منازلهم بايديهم لغاية 1-10-2018 وإلا ستنفذ قرار الهدم
Posted by حركة التحرير الوطني الفلسطيني " فتح "/الصفحة الرسمية on Saturday, 22 September 2018
Locals have opposed the state’s plan to relocate them near a garbage dump belonging to the Palestinian town of Abu Dis, as well as another proposal that would have moved them to a site adjacent to a sewage treatment facility east of the Mitzpe Jericho settlement.
The High Court initially froze the planned demolition of Khan al-Ahmar in July when it agreed to hear the residents’ petition.
In the beginning of that month, the state began its preparations to raze the hamlet, where none of the structures have been granted permits. Security forces were deployed to the village and construction workers began paving an access road that would facilitate the demolition and evacuation.
The state says the structures, mostly makeshift shacks and tents, were built without permits and pose a threat to the village residents because of their proximity to a highway.
The villagers — who have lived at the site, then controlled by Jordan, since the 1950s, after the state evicted them from their Negev homes — argue that they had little alternative but to build without Israeli construction permits, as such permits are almost never issued to Palestinians for building in parts of the West Bank, such as where Khan al-Ahmar lies, where Israel exerts full control over civilian affairs.
Opponents of the demolition also argue that it is part of an effort to enable the expansion of the nearby settlement of Kfar Adumim, and to create a region of contiguous Israeli control from Jerusalem almost to the Dead Sea, a move critics say will bisect the West Bank, making a contiguous Palestinian state impossible.