Video still of IDF soldier serving demolition order on illegal structure in Khan al-Ahmar Bedouin camp north east of Jerusalem (Screen capture: Twitter)
Israel issues pre-demolition orders for Bedouin village
IDF soldiers serve ‘cease construction’ notices to residents and school in Khan al-Ahmar, near Jerusalem
The IDF served preliminary demolition orders to 40 structures including tents, huts and a school in a Bedouin encampment near Jerusalem on Sunday.
The village of Khan al-Ahmar, northeast of Jerusalem near Ma’ale Adumim, is home to some 100 people. It also has the only school for Bedouin in the area.
According to Palestinian media outlets, residents were given until Thursday to vacate the area.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories confirmed to the Times of Israel that all illegal structures in the village were given orders to “cease construction.” The body, which interfaces with Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza, made no mention of orders to leave the buildings but said that the residents were invited to a hearing about the buildings on Thursday where they would be able to present their case.
In the past, such orders, followed by hearings, meant demolitions were coming.
COGAT did not give a date for the demolitions but said that enforcement of the orders would be carried out in accordance with government directives and legal approval.
The village, which has no infrastructure or services, was to have been demolished years ago, but the IDF refrained from doing so partly due to European and US pressure. In 2012 the government announced a plan to move all the residents to newly constructed homes in the an-Nuway’imah area in the Jordan Valley. However, the residents rejected the offer, saying it would impinge on their traditional way of life and their relations with neighboring Bedouin tribes.
In 2009 an Italian aid organization, Vento Di Terra, constructed a school for the children of the area, made of tires and mud, which now has more than 100 pupils. A month after it opened it was served with a demolition order.
State officials have long said that the village was constructed illegally and is too close to the highway that leads from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, which has been approved for expansion.
Bedouin in the area live in extreme poverty and have very high mortality rates.
Last month a controversial bill proposed by Jewish Home party head Naftali Bennett to annex the West Bank settlement city of Ma’ale Adumim, overlooking Khan al-Ahmar, was pushed off by at least a month until after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had spoken to US President Donald Trump.
“I support Israeli sovereignty over Ma’ale Adumim,” Netanyahu is quoted as saying. “There is no question about Ma’ale Adumim, and in any future accord it will be under Israeli sovereignty. But right now, at the request of the US administration, we were asked not to surprise them but to formulate a joint policy.”
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