Israeli High Court of Justice approves demolition of Khan al Ahmar

The Palestinian Bedouin community of Khan al Ahmar, in the occupied West Bank, faces an imminent threat of forcible transfer following the Israeli High Court of Justice’s rejection of final appeals against the village’s demolition this week. A temporary injunction against the demolitions is now set to expire within seven days.

The court’s decision has drawn immediate protest from human rights organisations and UN representatives. On the day of the ruling (5 September), UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said the UN has “called on Israel to cease demolition of Palestinian property and efforts to relocate Bedouin communities in the West Bank” and highlighted that “demolitions undermine prospect for two state solution and are against international law.”

Saleh Higazi, head of Amnesty International’s Jerusalem Office, said: “With this shameful and manifestly unlawful ruling the Supreme Court has confirmed a pattern of complicity in the crime of forcible transfer of Palestinian communities for the expansion Jewish only settlements. The court has not only completely denied the petitioners the protection provided to them by International Humanitarian Law, it has also validated the discriminatory policies of the Israeli authorities.”

The court ruled that Khan al Ahmar was built without the relevant building permits. However, Palestinians are routinely prevented from building permanent infrastructure due to a restrictive and discriminatory planning regime which makes these permits virtually impossible to obtain. This means that there is no permanent health infrastructure locally available for the community.

Khan al Ahmar is one of 27 Bedouin communities in Area C which is visited regularly by a MAP-funded mobile clinic, run by our partner the Islah Charitable Society. Located between two illegal Israeli settlements in the periphery of Jerusalem, it is home to some 35 families – totalling 180 people – originating from the Jahalin Bedouin tribe. The families moved to the site in 1953 after they were expelled from the Negev/Naqab desert, now in Israel.

UN figures have shown that 50% of Bedouin families lack access to water, 41% have no source of electricity and 84% cannot afford the transport costs to access health and education. Bedouins also suffer from high rates of malnutrition and elevated rates of accidents and hygiene-related hazards.

Delegations of British parliamentarians coordinated by MAP and Caabu often visit Khan al Ahmar’s primary school –built out of rubber tyres and mud, with EU funding – and have witnessed the many challenges to the health and dignity of Bedouin communities living in Area C, 60% of the West Bank where Israel maintains full civil and military control.

The demolition of Khan al Ahmar would constitute a severe threat to the residents’ rights to housing, education and health, which Israel, as the occupying power, is obliged to respect. As well as the physical health challenges Bedouin communities face, the fear of imminent demolitions undermines the psychological wellbeing of the community, especially its youngest members.

Take action

Please tweet or email your MP today urging them to sign, if they have not already done so, Early Day Motion 1169, "demolition plans for in Khan al-Ahmar village in the West Bank", which "calls on the Government to exert meaningful and decisive political, diplomatic and economic pressure on the Israeli authorities to halt the demolitions programme as a whole and, in particular, to abandon attempts to demolish the school and other buildings in Khan al-Ahmar".

You can find your MP’s contact details here

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