Right-wing activists rile residents of West Bank village slated for razing
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Right-wing activists rile residents of West Bank village slated for razing

Residents of Khan al-Ahmar and Palestinian activists hold Friday prayers at the Bedouin hamlet days before slated demolition

Israeli right-wing activists in blue shirts exchange shouts with Palestinian activists and local residents in a passageway under the Route 1 highway near the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, September 7, 2018. (Twitter screen capture)
Israeli right-wing activists in blue shirts exchange shouts with Palestinian activists and local residents in a passageway under the Route 1 highway near the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, September 7, 2018. (Twitter screen capture)

Right-wing Israeli activists clashed Friday with Bedouin residents of Khan al-Ahmar near the West Bank village, which is slated for demolition as early as Wednesday.

The activists, part of the Im Tirtzu organization, were at the site to participate in a lecture, the group told the Kan public broadcaster.

In footage taken by local Bedouins and Palestinian activists, the residents of the village could be seen exchanging angry shouts with the Israelis in a passageway under the Route 1 highway leading to the ramshackle village.

Israeli police officers soon interceded and separated the groups, leading the Israeli activists out of the area.

In one video shared on Twitter by a Kan reporter, an Im Tirtzu activist is heard yelling at a Palestinian filming the scene, “Is it fun in Israel? Is it? You have roads!”

There were no reports of violence in the tense encounter.

Earlier Friday, Palestinian activists from around the West Bank held Friday prayers together with locals that were broadcast on Palestinian television.

The activists then walked to the village outskirts, where it meets Route 1, carrying Palestinian flags and chanting.

The protests came two days after Israel’s High Court of Justice gave the final okay to the government’s plans to demolish the village, which was built without building permits, under a plan that would provide its residents with alternative plots of land near the eastern Jerusalem suburb of Abu Dis.

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 the highway.

The Bedouin have vehemently rejected the alternative offered by Israel, saying the move threatens their traditional way of life and arguing that they have little alternative but to build without Israeli construction permits, as such permits are almost never issued to Palestinians for construction in “Area C,” the 60 percent of the West Bank, including Khan Al-Ahmar, where Israel has full control over civilian affairs.

A court decision in July froze the village’s demolition until September 12. After Wednesday’s final rejection of the Bedouins’ last appeal, the government can now carry out the razing starting next Wednesday.

The European Union on Thursday demanded Israel reconsider the demolition, warning it would undermine efforts to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians.

The Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank on September 6, 2018. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

“The consequences of a demolition of this community and the displacement of its residents, including children, against their will, would be very serious and would severely threaten the viability of the two-state solution and undermine prospects for peace,” the EU said in a statement. “The community of Khan al-Ahmar is located in a sensitive location in Area C, of strategic importance for preserving the contiguity of a future Palestinian state.”

“The EU expects the Israeli authorities to reconsider their decision to demolish Khan al-Ahmar,” the statement continued.

On Tuesday, the UN Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov similarly warned that demolition of the village would impact peace efforts.

Mladenov said the planned demolition of the village would “undermine the prospect for two-state solution and is against international law.”

Opponents of the demolition 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.

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)

Khan al-Ahmar’s demolition had already been approved by the court in May, a fact that the judges noted in their decision Wednesday.

The judges also rejected the petitioners’ request to delay Khan al-Ahmar’s demolition until a new alternative site is found for its residents.

The High Court 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 had begun its preparations to raze the hamlet. Security forces were deployed to the village and construction workers began paving an access road that would facilitate the demolition and evacuation.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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