11 arrested during clashes at West Bank Bedouin village slated for demolition
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11 arrested during clashes at West Bank Bedouin village slated for demolition

35 said injured as protesters attempt to block construction equipment from building access road to facilitate the razing of the encampment

Demonstrators wave Palestinian flags as they try to prevent a tractor from paving an access road to the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar on July 4, 2018. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)
Demonstrators wave Palestinian flags as they try to prevent a tractor from paving an access road to the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar on July 4, 2018. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

Clashes broke out Wednesday between police and protesters at a Bedouin village in the West Bank due to be demolished.

Residents of Khan al-Ahmar and protesters attempted to block construction equipment from advancing as it was moved into the area to pave an access road to facilitate the demolition of the encampment, with a number of people climbing onto a bulldozer.

Police said in a statement that 11 people were arrested during disturbances at the site, and that rocks were thrown at officers. Israeli rights group B’Tselem said the detainees included the organization’s own head of field research.

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported 35 people injured, with four taken to hospital. Police said the wounded included three officers, including one taken to hospital.

After years of legal battles, the Supreme Court recently approved the demolition in May. The state says the structures were built without the relevant building permits and pose a threat to residents because of their proximity to a highway.

The hamlet has been the subject of international controversy over the years for, among other things, its elementary school, which is made from tires, mud and falafel oil.

Critics say building permits are nearly impossible to obtain for Palestinians in Israeli-controlled areas of the West Bank and the demolition is meant to clear the way for new Jewish settlements.

Israel has pledged to resettle the residents, who the UN says number 180.

Israel says it has offered the residents an alternative location, near a garbage dump belonging to the Palestinian town of Abu Dis. Bedouin villagers say the location is unsuitable for their way of life, and have asserted that residents of Abu Dis have warned them not to come there.

A spokesman for the B’Tselem rights group said that construction equipment has been spotted at the site of the alternative location known as Jabal West, ostensibly part of Israeli efforts to prepare for the move there.

A spokeswoman for the Civil Administration, the Defense Ministry body that authorizes West Bank construction, told The Times of Israel that while forces were operating in the area on Wednesday, the evacuation itself is not expected to take place in the coming days.

The UN’s main human rights body expressed concern Tuesday over Israel’s expected demolition of the village.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that demolishing the structures in the Khan al-Ahmar encampment would be a violation of international law. It called on Israel to abandon the demolition plans and “to respect the rights of residents to remain on their land.”

Separately Wednesday, B’Tselem reported that Civil Administration representatives along with bulldozers and dozens of police officers arrived at the Bedouin village of Abu Nawwar near the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. Forces demolished nine houses and three other structures used for agricultural purposes. Sixty-two people, half of them minors, were left without homes, the rights group said.

In February, Israeli authorities demolished a school in the community, claiming it had been illegally built.

Abu Nawwar is located in a sensitive area of the West Bank seen as key to any future settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

B’Tselem said that security forces had also congregated around Susiya in the south Hebron hills, another Bedouin village where seven homes are slated for demolition.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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