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Supreme court postpones demolition of Khan al-Ahmar

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Israel’s Supreme Court granted a temporary injunction last night that postpones the proposed demolition of the Khan al-Ahmar Bedouin village.

The injunction was granted after an urgent petition was submitted by Alaa Mahajna, a lawyer representing the residents of Khan Al-Ahmar. The petition argued that the Civil Administration, which grants construction permits in the West Bank, never proposed any plans to legalise the village and refused to review a plan submitted by the villagers. The Civil Administration has until 11 July to respond to the issues raised in the petition.

Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain yesterday submitted complaints to the Israeli Government making clear their opposition to the plan to demolish Khan al-Ahmar. Barak Ravid of Channel 10 News reported that they warned Israeli officials that the demolition of the village “would trigger a reaction from EU member states”.

Diplomats from France, UK, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and Ireland attempted to visit the village yesterday but were prevented from entering the areas as it had been declared a closed military zone.

The French Consul-General in Jerusalem, Pierre Cochard, said: “We wanted to show our solidarity with this village which is threatened with destruction, for humanitarian reasons and because it is a major issue of international law.”

Khan al-Ahmar, which is home to the Jahalin Bedouin tribe, is located in Area C  of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli control. It is adjacent to the Route 1 Highway which connects Jerusalem to the Dead Sea.

The village consists largely of dwellings built with tin and wood. The tribe are believed to have moved there in the 1970s and and approximately 180 people live there.

After a ten year legal dispute involving four separate cases, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in May that the village was built illegally and must be evacuated. The Supreme Court also approved the Government plan to provide a new site and concluded that it offered suitable housing and allowed the community to continue herding their flocks and maintaining their traditional lifestyle.

The Government plan involved relocating the villagers five miles away from Khan al-Ahmar to “Jahalin West,” near Abu Dis on the outskirts of East Jerusalem, to build a new school, and to provide each family with plots of land which would be connected to electricity and water.