Israel set to raze Palestinian village

UN calls on Israel to halt demolition and allow Palestinians to remain on their own land

A Palestinian woman argues with an Israeli soldier as she rides on an Israeli bulldozer in the Palestinian Bedouin village of al-Khan al-Ahmar near Jericho in the occupied West Bank July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Khan Al Ahmar: Residents and activists voiced concern on Wednesday that Israel is set to raze a Bedouin village in a strategic part of the occupied West Bank ignoring international calls for a reprieve.

Activists said the Israeli military issued a warrant to the 173 residents of Khan Al Ahmar on Tuesday authorising it to seize access roads to the village.

Heavy equipment, including at least one bulldozer, were seen around the village on Wednesday, leading to speculation a road was being prepared to facilitate its evacuation and demolition.

“Today they are proceeding with infrastructure work to facilitate the demolition and forcible transfer of residents,” Amit Gilutz, spokesman for Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, told AFP.

The UN’s main human rights body expressed concern on Tuesday over the expected demolition as critics say is being carried out to make room for more Jewish colonies.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called on Israel to abandon the demolition plans and said the destruction of private property by an occupying power violated international law.

“We call on the Israeli authorities not to proceed with the demolition of (Khan al Ahmar), to respect the rights of residents to remain on their land and have their status regularised,” the spokeswoman, Liz Throssell, said.

Israeli authorities claim the village and its school were built illegally and in May, the supreme court rejected a final appeal against its demolition.

But activists say the villagers had little alternative but to build without Israeli construction permits as the documents are near impossible for Palestinians to obtain for that part of the occupied West Bank.

Israel has a systematic policy of making it difficult for Palestinians to build on their own land in an attempt to frustrate them and force them off of it.

Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes are carried out regularly and under the pretext that owners did not obtain legal permits to build.

Israel also demolishes homes of Palestinian resistance fighters or activists as a part of its collective punishment policy.

Rights groups have blasted Israel’s continuous colonisation projects in the Occupied West Bank and Palestinians say such moves are proof that Israel is not serious about peace.

Britain’s minister of state for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, visited the village in May and called on the Israeli government to show restraint.

He warned that any forced relocation “could constitute forcible transfer of people as far as the United Nations is concerned.”

Forcible transfer is considered a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Khan Al Ahmar is located east of Occupied Jerusalem near several Israeli colonies along a road leading to the Dead Sea.

Activists are concerned continued Israeli colony construction in the area could effectively divide the West Bank in two.

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