Israeli occupation forces declared the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank, a closed military zone Friday ahead of its demolition. Local news agency Ma’an reported that Israeli forces closed all roads leading to the village, preventing Palestinians, international activists, and journalists from entering and exiting the village.
The declaration of Khan al-Ahmar, which lies between two illegal Israeli settlements (Ma’ale Adumim and Kfar Adumim), as a closed military zone comes after the Israeli Civil Administration ordered the residents of Khan al-Ahmar to demolish their own homes and evacuate the area before the start of October.
According to the villagers and Israeli anti-occupation groups, the demolition seeks to create territorial continuity between these two settlements and connect them with the occupied city of Jerusalem, which Israel claims as its capital despite international law.
The Bedouin people of the Jahalin tribe, who settled in these lands after they were expelled from the Negev desert in the 1950s, have resisted previous attempts to forcibly displace them and vowed to remain in their lands and face Israeli bulldozers. Israeli authorities have planned to relocate Khan al-Ahmar's 181 residents to a location near Abu Dis, where there used to be a garbage dump.
The villagers have refused, arguing health hazards and that the location is not suitable for their way of life. According to Khan al-Ahmar residents, Bedouins who have been previously moved to the proposed location have warned them not to go there.
On Sept., 23, Israeli soldiers delivered letters to the village’s resident stating: "By the High Court decision you must demolish all buildings within the Khan al-Ahmar no later than 1 October 2018. … If you refuse, the authorities will enforce demolition orders as per court decision and the law."
The decision to demolish the village and displace its inhabitants has been rejected by European countries and human rights groups who have warned Israel this action amounts to a war crime. International humanitarian law prohibits “collective or individual forcible transfers of population from and within the occupied territory.”
Israeli authorities have justified their decision saying the village was illegally built because they lacked Israeli-issued building permits, which are nearly impossible to obtain for Palestinians. According to U.N. figures, Israel approved only 1.5 percent of all permit requests by Palestinians between 2010 and 2014.