An Israeli High Court injunction preventing the forced displacement and demolition of the Arab-Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar expired at midnight on Tuesday this week. Israeli army bulldozers may now show up at any time to destroy the West Bank Palestinian village, strategically situated between Jerusalem and the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim.
Around 100 Palestinian, international and Israeli peace activists visited the village the night the injunction ended to ensure that the residents are not alone when occupation forces arrive to demolish their homes. A huge tent was erected in the school courtyard, which has become the headquarters of the struggle. During the solidarity visit there were no signs that the demolition was about to be carried out, but nobody was going to take any chances.
Israeli border police arrived before dawn on Thursday, September 13, and demolished five trailers that had been recently set up outside the village. The trailers, erected out of shipping containers, had been hastily improvised earlier in the week as a form of protest and surrogate target against the expected razing of Khan al-Ahmar itself. “We hope that … it will satisfy them that they succeeded in destroying the five houses. It was not our battle to fight, defending the empty houses. Our battle is to defend the houses of Khan al-Ahmar,” Walid Assaf, head of the commission against the wall and settlements, told Al Jazeera.
Leading members of Hadash, Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh, MK Aida Touma-Sliman and MK Dov Khenin, arrived at Khan al-Ahmar on Thursday afternoon to express solidarity with residents. They urged Khan al-Ahmar residents to stand strong and “look the occupation in the eyes.”
MK Touma-Sliman said, “Khan al-Ahmar’s struggle is the Palestinian people’s struggle for independent recognition and territorial contiguity for a future independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital… The small and steadfast Khan al-Ahmar can shine a bright light toward a more just future.”
In a European Parliament debate on Khan al-Ahmar held on Tuesday night in Strasbourg, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the destruction of the village “would also be a blow against the viability of the State of Palestine and against the very possibility of a two-state solution.” Mogherini continued, “The EU and its Member States have expressed their concerns about the imminent demolition through repeated statements, démarches and ministerial letters to the Israeli authorities, and the representatives of several member states were present at the village on 5 July when the Israeli forces attempted to cordon it off.”
“Until now, these efforts have been to no avail. Israel claims that the community has been built without the required building permits. It is important to note, however, that it is virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain any building permits in Area C of the West Bank, as confirmed by the Quartet report we produced in July 2016,” Mogherini said.
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