a Bedouin hamlet threatened with demolition by Israel

The 4 x 4 advance cautiously on the dirt road. To reach the hamlet of Khan Al-Ahmar by car, you have to pass under the highway that connects Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley to the east, cutting through the desert hills of Judea in the occupied West Bank. In the eyes of Israel, the forty or so shacks made of sheet metal, wood and plastic sheeting are illegal because they were built without permits. The Israeli government has until Wednesday 1er February to explain to the Supreme Court what he intends to do with the 38 Palestinian families who live there – some 200 people. In 2018, the judges confirmed the destruction of the “illegal structures in Khan Al-Ahmar”. The Bedouins had presented an alternative plan to stay; they were rejected, but, under pressure from the international community, the decision remained in abeyance.

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On the eve of a new hearing, the diplomats are back. On Monday, around 30 representatives from Europe, including France, Australia, Latin America and South Africa visited the hamlet, hosted by the community and the Israeli anti-occupation NGO B’Tselem. The Palestinian kids watch the ballet of cars, cameras and microphones without amazement: they are used to these official visits dictated by the Israeli judicial calendar.

The leader of the community, Eid Abou Khamis, cap on his head and thin mustache, leads the procession: first a tour of the school, financed by the European Union, then he seats the diplomats on his terrace . “These constructions, this wood, these materials, all of this was financed by European states. Are you going to protect this? »he asks.

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In 2018, after the Supreme Court ruling, international pressure pushed back the destruction. “It was probably the most successful international effort to protect Palestinian communities”, underlines the executive director of B’Tselem, Hagai El-Ad. In a resolution of September 13, 2018, the European Parliament warned Israel: “The demolition of Khan Al-Ahmar and the forcible transfer of its residents would constitute a serious violation of international humanitarian law. » The Israeli government preferred to avoid confrontation.

Strategic location

But since then the settlers have gone on the attack. The NGO Regavim, co-founded by the current finance minister, the supremacist Bezalel Smotrich, has asked the Supreme Court to enforce its decision. Until today, the executive had asked for delays, taking the pretext of political instability and even the war in Ukraine. It seems unlikely that the new far-right government, committed to the cause of colonization, will do the same.

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