Israel's Offer to Bedouin Community Facing Eviction: Evacuate Peacefully and Get a New Village

Residents of Khan al-Ahmar have been waging a legal battle to halt eviction from their village, which court ruled was built without authorization

Khan al-Ahmar
Emil Salman

In the latest development involving Israeli authorities’ efforts to evict Bedouin residents of the West Bank village of Khan al-Ahmar, the government informed the High Court of Justice on Tuesday that it would prepare a permanent site near the West Bank settlement of Mitzpeh Yeriho if residents agree to leave without resistance. The relocation site would house 80 of the Jahalin Bedouin families in the area east of Jerusalem, including the residents of Khan al-Ahmar.

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Khan al-Ahmar residents have been waging a high-profile battle to stay at their current location, despite a court ruling that their village was built without authorization and must be evacuated. Their case has received international media attention, some of which focused on a school building in the village that was constructed of tires.

At a hearing in  August, the High Court confirmed that the residents must leave and that the only question is where they would go. The state told the court on Tuesday that its consent to prepare the site next to Mitzpeh Yeriho is contingent on the written agreement of all the members of the Jahalin tribe not to resist eviction.

Dozens of Bedouin families from the tribe who were expelled from the Negev in the 1950s have lived since then in Khan al-Ahmar. In August, the state proposed to the court that the residents move at least temporarily to a site known as Jahalin West, not far from Khan al-Ahmar, but would also entertain preparation of another permanent site. The state also undertook to provide large tents to the families from Khan al-Ahmar who move to West Jahalin.

The 255-dunam (64-acre) site near Mitzpeh Yeriho is state-owned land and is about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Khan al-Ahmar. The state noted, however, that the plan would require the expropriation of privately owned land for an access road to the site and said utilities could also be hooked up from nearby.