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Residents brace for demolition of West Bank village as evacuation deadline passes

Written byi24NEWS 10/01/2018

Residents brace for demolition of West Bank village as evacuation deadline passes

10/01/20183:19:06 PMUpdated on10/01/20183:24:57 PMWritten byi24NEWS

Residents of the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar were bracing for a possible forcible eviction as a Monday deadline to leave their homes passed ahead of the controversial and imminently anticipated demolition of the village.

Residents of Khan al-Ahmar were last month handed eviction notices setting an October 1 deadline to demolish all structures in the village, otherwise Israeli authorities would do so.

“In accordance with the High Court of Justice decision, you are asked to demolish all buildings in Khan al-Ahmar no later than October 1, 2018,” said notices distributed by workers of the Civil Administration, the Defense Ministry body that oversees construction in the West Bank

“If you refuse to do so, local authorities will enforce the demolition orders in accordance with the ruling of the court. Any citizen who wishes to receive assistance in demolishing or transporting [property] is welcome to contact the Jerusalem District Coordination and Liaison Office by said date.”

Palestinian media reports said Sunday that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had closed all access to the village, declaring it a “closed military zone” and preventing civilians and journalists.

The IDF and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said they were unaware of any closed military zones around Khan al-Ahmar.

A September 9 ruling by Israel’s High Court nullified a previous order freezing the demolition of the strategically-located village, ending nine years of legal battles between the State of Israel and Khan al-Ahmar residents and activists.

Israeli authorities say that village was built illegally, without proper permits, and that it is too close the major roadway.

Activists say Khan al-Ahmar was established without permits after the Jahalin Bedouin tribe, originally from the Negev desert, were expelled from the area by the Israeli military in the 1950’s and then again from Kfar Adumim, where they leased land.

The expected demolition of the strategically-located village has sparked international condemnation.

The village is located in an area known as E1, a strategic area earmarked for Israeli development which forms a buffer east of Jerusalem that Palestinians say would divide the West Bank and badly hurt the possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state.

The sensitive zone is part of the West Bank’s “Area C”, which makes up some 60 percent of West Bank territory and over which Israel has administrative control according to the terms of the 1995 Oslo accords.

The United Nations, European Union, and rights groups have opposed the razing of the village, which consists mainly of makeshift structures of tin and wood, warning repeatedly of the impact on the local Bedouin community and the prospect of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Palestinians have said they will file a complaint against Israel at the International Criminal Court over claims that the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar constitutes a war crime.

Diplomats from Belgium, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the European Union all expressed concern over the demolition of the village, which became a matter for international attention after officials from those nations were barred by Israeli police from visiting a school there.

Earlier this month, the EU denounced Israeli action and passed a resolution declaring that the slated destruction of the Bedouin village and eviction of its residents constitutes a violation of international humanitarian law and may well be considered a war crime.

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