State Takes Preparatory Steps Ahead of West Bank Bedouin Village’s Demolition

Civil Administration officials, policemen come to take measurements at Khan al-Ahmar, tell residents they’re better off leaving ‘willingly’

A school in the town of Khan al-Ahmar
Vento Di Terra Ong

Civil Administration employees accompanied by policemen took measurements and made a close inspection of the Jahalin Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, which is slated for demolition, residents reported Sunday. 

A security source confirmed the measurement-taking to Haaretz, but added, “There won’t be any eviction tonight.”

On May 24, following a lengthy legal campaign, Supreme Court Justices Noam Sohlberg, Anat Baron and Yael Willner allowed the state to demolish the village’s homes, which were built without permits, and to evacuate their residents to the village of Al Jabel, an area near the Abu Dis garbage dump that the state has allocated for the permanent settlement of the Jahalin Bedouin, refugees from the Negev who have lived in the area since before 1967. Throughout the years, the state has refused to recognize their communities, prepare master plans suited to their way of life or grant them building permits.

Ahmad Abu Dahuk, a village resident, told Haaretz that the Civil Administration representatives, accompanied by security personnel, were seen five times at the entrance to the village, on Route 1, which leads to Jericho. The sixth time, he said, on Sunday around noon, they entered the village, walked around the houses, entered the ecological school (the well-known one made of tires, which is also slated for demolition), and counted the flocks of sheep. He said the children who were in the school fled in panic. 

He also said that when representatives entered the village, they did not identify themselves to the residents and spoke little. Residents told B’Tselem that a police officer told them they would be evacuated by force and that they would be better off leaving “willingly.” He refused to specify the date of the eviction, B’Tselem said in a statement.

Abu Dahuk also told Haaretz that acquaintances in Al Jabel told him that later in the afternoon, Civil Administration representatives had also shown up in seven jeeps to examine the area designated for his community. He thinks these were the same officers who took the measurements and carried out the inspections in his village. 

“We are afraid to sleep, in case they come at night and destroy our homes, and we are afraid when we wake up, in case they come then to destroy them,” he said.

Since the High Court paved the way for the demolition last month, police, army and Civil Administration representatives have been coming to the site periodically to survey the area and the houses to determine the best points of entry for the heavy vehicles and bulldozers. This time, however, the surveying raised concerns that the demolition and eviction were imminent. The ruling by Sohlberg, Baron and Willner allowed the state to destroy the village at any time from the beginning of June.