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School in Khan al-Ahmar. Photo by Anne Paq, Activestills.org, 4 September 2011.

Bedouins around Ma’ale Adumim: the Khan al-Ahmar Community and School

The following is an excerpt from a B’Tselem article on Area C, entitled, “The Bedouins around Ma’ale Adumim,” originally posted November 2013 and updated May 18, 2014.
[Photo: Khan al-Ahmar School, Sept. 2011. By Anne Paq]

In early 2012 the State advised that the Civil Administration had conducted a risk assessment regarding the relocation of the Jahalin to a site near the garbage dump, and only when the report is complete would a decision be made regarding final approval of the plan. In the meantime, no action would be taken on the ground, and if a decision is made to move forward with the plan, it would be resubmitted for objections and the petitioners would be able to register their objections.  Following this announcement, the petition was voided by agreement of the parties, emphasizing that “the authorities in the area reserve the right to continue to act with the aim of planning for the benefit of the Palestinians in general, and the Bedouin sector in particular, in all of Judea and Samaria”. In early May 2014, the Civil Administration had not yet published its decision concerning the plan for relocation to the garbage dump. Given the developments detailed below, the plan appears to have been abandoned.

One structure built without permits in Bedouin communities is a primary school in Khan al-Ahmar. Established in June 2009, the building is made of mud and rubber tires. Before the school was opened, the village children had to go schools that were far distant, making trips that were both costly and risky. A month after the school opened, the Civil Administration issued it a demolition order, arguing that it was too close to a main road for which expansion plans have already been approved. Att. Shlomo Lecker filed a petition to the High Court of Justice on behalf of local Bedouins in the area, seeking that the demolition order be withdrawn. In September 2009, the settlements of Kfar Adumim, Alon and Nofei Prat petitioned the court together with Israeli organization Regavim that insists on , demanding implementation of the demolition orders issued for 257 Palestinian structures in their vicinity, including the school.

In response to the Bedouin residents’ petition, the Civil Administration agreed not to demolish the school before the end of the school year in June 2010, and declared that the plans to relocate the residents would include a new school. The Court therefore denied both petitions in March 2010. The school was not demolished at the end of the 2010 school year, nor the following year either. In August 2011, the settlements petitioned the High Court once more, seeking to have the military and the Civil Administration carry out the demolition orders for the school. In November 2011, the area’s Palestinian residents, represented by Att. Lecker, also re-petitioned the High Court, seeking that the demolition of the school be stayed pending completion of a master plan for a village community near Khan al-Ahmar’s current location, where the school could be rebuilt legally. In response to the petition by the settlements, the State announced in September 2012 that two alternative sites in the Jericho area – Nu’eimeh North and Armonot Hashmonaim – were being considered for relocation of the community of Khan al-Ahmar near Ma’ale Adumim, adding that the relocation would be carried out through a participatory process that would include representatives of the Jahalin, hopefully within a year. The State added that the demolition orders would not be carried out before the process was completed. In light of the State’s response, the Court chose not to intervene and rejected the petitions.

In November 2013, the settlements petitioned the High Court a third time, reiterating their demand that the State carry out the demolition orders. In response, the State cited “the plan in process to relocate residents to an area north of Jericho, as part of the ‘Ramat Nu’eimeh’ master plan”, and informed the Court that the master plan for the Armonot Hashmona’im area had been deferred for the time being. The residents of Khan al-Ahmar were determinedly opposed to relocation to the Nu’eimeh area, and submitted a plan outlining the necessary construction and planning adjustments necessary to validate their current site of residence. The plan was rejected by the authorities. State representatives requested that the Court reject the petition, emphasizing that “it is important to bear in mind that we are dealing with school-age children, and transferring them to another educational framework, far from their place of residence, is undesirable”, and that “extreme sensitivity is called for before carrying out the demolition orders, in light of the implications for the abovementioned minors”. In May 2014, the Court rejected the petition, noting “the Respondents’ efforts to reach an amenable overall solution and their wish to avoid harming minors”.

Read the full report here: http://www.btselem.org/area_c/maale_adumim_bedouins

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