The forced evacuation of the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the occupied Palestinian West Bank will be delayed until further notice, Israel announced on Saturday night, October 20. Far-right Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman slammed the security cabinet’s decision and emphasized it was made “despite strong objections.” Security forces have said in recent days that they are ready to evacuate the village and are waiting for instructions to do so.
Regavim, a pro-settler Israeli NGO that had initially pushed the plan for displacement of the Bedouin, issued a statement lamenting the decision and calling it capitulation to the Palestinian Authority. Walid Assaf, head of the Palestinian National Committee to Resist the Wall and Settlements, speaking at a news conference held in the protest tent at Khan al-Ahmar said: “We don’t trust the Israeli decision to freeze the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar and we will continue our protests to protect the area.”
The residents of Khan Al-Ahmar are from the Arab-Bedouin Jahalin tribe expelled from the Negev during the 1948 war. The Jahalin then settled on the eastern slopes of Jerusalem. The Khan al-Ahmar community consists of about 35 families whose makeshift homes and schools, mostly constructed from corrugated metal and wood, have been demolished by the Israeli army several times in past years. Early in September Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected an appeal against the demolition of the village.
The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said in a statement after the court ruling “Palestinians cannot build legally and are excluded from the decision-making mechanisms that determine how their lives will look. The planning systems are intended solely for the benefit of the [Israeli] settlers. This ruling shows once again that those under occupation cannot seek justice in the occupier’s courts.”
Israel announced in July that it plans to relocate the 180 residents of Khan al-Ahmar to an area about 12km away, near the Palestinian village of Abu Dis. However, the new site is adjacent to a landfill, and rights advocates say that a forcible transfer of the residents would violate international law applying to occupied territories.
Israeli Police Detain Palestinian Governor of Jerusalem
On Saturday, October 20, special units of the Israeli police detained the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem, Adnan Ghaith, in the town of Beit Hanina north of occupied east Jerusalem.
Informed sources told the Palestinian news agency Wafa that at least three police cars intercepted the car carrying the governor before seizing him and leading him to an unknown destination. No reason was given for the arrest. Earlier Saturday, the Israeli army detained Colonel Jihad Faqeeh, 50, who heads the Jerusalem office of the Palestinian Intelligence forces at a military checkpoint near the town of Qatannah, northwest of Jerusalem, as he was heading to work in Ramallah.
In addition, Israeli police forces detained a Palestinian youth, on Saturday, in Jerusalem for wearing a shirt of the Palestinian flag. Witnesses told Palestinian news agency Ma’an that Israeli forces prevented a Palestinian youth, entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque reportedly for wearing a shirt of the Palestinian flag. Israeli police forces stopped, searched and detained the youth from inside the Old City of Jerusalem and transferred him to an Israeli police station located on Salah al-Din Street, north of the Old City walls.