Supreme Court approves razing West Bank Bedouin village

Campaigners say hearing was the final appeal to save Khan al-Ahmar, which Israel maintains was built without permits

A young boy in the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank. (Yaniv Nadav/Flash90)
A young boy in the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank. (Yaniv Nadav/Flash90)

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of demolishing a Palestinian Bedouin village in the West Bank, despite a campaign by European governments to save it.

Campaigners said the hearing had been the final appeal open to the village of Khan al-Ahmar, located close to several Israeli settlements east of Jerusalem.

Israel maintains that the village was built illegally. However, plans to raze the village have sparked a sustained international outcry.

It was unclear when the demolition of the village home to around 180 residents would take place.

In its ruling the court said it found “no reason to intervene in the decision of the minister of defense to implement the demolition orders issued against the illegal structures in Khan al-Ahmar.”

The residents would be relocated elsewhere, it added, in a move critics say amounts to forcible transfer.

The court ruled that the village was built without the relevant building permits.

Critics say such permits are nearly impossible to obtain for Palestinians in Israeli-controlled areas of the West Bank.

“This verdict takes away the absolute minimal protection the Bedouin communities received until recently from the court,” Shlomo Lecker, the lawyer representing the village, said in a statement.

“By any standard of international humanitarian law, the verdict is an approval by the Israeli court of a crime against humanity.”

The decision was likely to be met with anger by European governments, who had been fighting to save the village.

Earlier this week a group of 74 Democratic lawmakers urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt the planned demolition of Khan al-Ahmar and another village, Sussiya.

Last week the head of the British consulate-general in Jerusalem, Philip Hall, visited the village and said in a video clip published online that the planned demolition was a “matter of great concern for the UK and indeed for the European Union.”

A number of traditionally nomadic Bedouin communities are based east of Jerusalem, where rights groups fear demolitions could eventually clear the way for further Israeli settlement construction.

Times of Israel contributed to this report.

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