The Civil Administration this week warned the residents of the unauthorized Bedouin village of Khan al-Amar, whose structures have no building permits, that they could expect to be removed shortly. Civil Administration employees came to the village on Wednesday and urged the residents to evacuate to an alternative site at Jabal. The residents refuse to move to that location, saying it isn’t suited to their needs.
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Khan al-Amar, located near Ma’aleh Adumim, has become a symbol of the Bedouin settlement in the region against which Israel is battling. The Bedouin around Ma’aleh Adumim live in areas that Israel considers strategic for building and expanding settlements and establishing a territorial link between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem. The government has long expressed its desire to evacuate Khan al-Amar, but has delayed doing so for fear of international criticism.
Around 150 people live in Khan al-Amar in temporary dwellings that are not properly connected to any utilities. This is the village in which a nongovernmental organization in Italy erected a school built from used tires, which is attended by Bedouin children throughout the region.
In the past, various foreign governments, including the Obama administration, have come out against the demolition of the village, and Israel in turn has refrained from enforcing planning and construction laws there. But now the security apparatus has made it clear that the village is to be evacuated in the near term. According to the B’Tselem organization, demolition of an entire community in the territories has almost no precedent since 1967.
A’id Kahmis Jahalin, a local resident who has met with Civil Administration personnel, said they had presented the plan for Jabal, near Azzariyeh. “He showed us the plan and tried to persuade the Bedouin here – to pressure the Bedouin here – to move there,” he said. The Jahalin tribe has refused to move there for several reasons. “Our community is here since before 1967,” he said. “It’s the central community. There’s a school and a mosque, and children. I was here first.”
The second reason, he said, was that “the Jahalin are two families. In Jabal there isn’t a single person from our family and never was, not now, not under the Jordanians or under the Turks.” He added that the new location isn’t being planned for the Bedouin way of life. “It’s a small area. The Bedouin isn’t an ironworker, he doesn’t build with stone. He doesn’t know how to live that way. He knows only his flocks. If you put him there, it will kill him.”
The High Court of Justice on September 25 is scheduled to hold a hearing on conflicting petitions on this issue – a petition filed by the settlements in the area demanding that the demolition of the village be expedited, and a petition by the community against the plan to demolish its homes.