MAP’s CEO visits Bedouin community Khan al Ahmar

MAP’s CEO, Aimee Shalan, reports on her October visit to the Bedouin community of Khan al Ahmar, under imminent threat of demolition and forcible transfer by Israeli forces since July. It was the day before the Israeli authorities announced a temporary suspension of the planned demolition.  

On my recent trip to the West Bank I visited Khan al Ahmar with the MAP-funded mobile clinic run by our partner, the Islah Charitable Society.

During our visit we took the opportunity to sit with some of the women in the community and learn more about their current situation and its impact on their well-being.

One woman told us it had been her nephew’s wedding a couple of days earlier, but she didn’t want to go because she felt depressed and was afraid to leave her family. So she just went for a very short time and wasn’t able to enjoy the wedding as she usually would.

The woman said she was happy that many people have been visiting the community as it makes them feel safer, but the situation is very difficult. She told us how the Israeli military had shot one man and although there was an ambulance on site, they would not let the medics near him for a long time.She also said they had been violent towards a woman and arrested her when she tried to stop them from taking her uncle. They imprisoned her for 10 days.

We heard how several people in the community have been injured trying to defend their homes, increasing the urgency for accessible healthcare. Yet despite this, our mobile health clinic has been denied access to the community a number of times by the Israeli authorities.

When the Israeli forces come the women hide in their tents. We were told that they have been coming on a daily basis. They’ve even been coming on Saturdays, which is unusual. In the beginning soldiers came right into the community, but the women said they now they stand at a distance in order to avoid further clashes that would be covered by the media. Clashes normally happen nearer the road.

Most men are no longer going to work as they do not want to risk leaving the community while it is threatened to be demolished at any time. This has greatly increased stress levels within the community.

We were told that some of the school teachers have had to walk long distances as they are no longer allowed to park their cars in Khan al Ahmar or be dropped by the main road. The women said that some of those that have tried to reach the school in the community have been fined by the Israeli authorities for crossing the road.

The children watch the news and know what is going on. Their parents keep telling them not to be scared but they are especially scared at night, following an incident when Israeli soldiers came to the village. Some children in the community are reported to suffer from night-terrors and bed-wetting.

The children keep asking why they can’t move around anymore. They are bored of just going to school and back home. They want to go to the new amusement park that recently opened in Jericho, but their parents worry what will happen if they leave the community for any time at all.

We were all relieved to learn the next day that Israel was postponing the demolition.  This will at least ease some of the immediate fears and anxieties in the community and allow them to sustain themselves some time longer there.  But the community’s existence remains precarious and we must all continue to support their right to remain and indeed flourish on their own lands.

To learn more about demolitions and the threat of forcible transfer to Khan al Ahmar and other communities in the occupied West Bank, read our new factsheet, Obstructed Healthcare and De-Development in Area C of the West Bank.

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