Opinion

The Eviction of Khan al-Ahmar Stinks Up to High Heaven

This is a story about Israel that European newspapers would never publish. Who would believe the Jewish democratic state would present non-Jews with two options for where to live, either next to a garbage dump or next to a sewage plant?

A demonstrator holds a Palestinian flag during a rally in support of Khan al-Ahmar residents in the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, in the occupied West Bank August 1, 2018
\ MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/ REUTERS

This is anti-Semitic canard, the editor of the British newspaper would say, before shelving a piece that came from the Middle East desk. The editor at the German TV news channel would take one look at the pitch from her reporter in Jerusalem, take fright and say: “Forget about it, do you know how many protest letters and phone calls we’ll get if we broadcast this? They’ll say that we broadcast a chapter of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

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Because who could invent a story like this, if not Israel’s enemies? That the Jewish democratic state would present non-Jews with two options for where to live, either next to a garbage dump or next to a sewage plant?

So that the area where they have been living for decades could be vacated in favor of expanding Jewish villas? Only Jeremy Corbyn could invent such an absurdity, Jewish community leaders in London would say. Unfortunately, this is not an invention by Jew-haters. It’s the truth.

The High Court of Justice directed attorneys from the state prosecutor’s office to explain in writing their proposal to soften somewhat the edict of forced eviction of Bedouin of the Jahalin tribe from Khan al-Ahmar, which had been approved previously by a different panel of justices.

Once again, here are the details, because the government’s tactics are to blur them. Here again are the details because this is not a singular event. Similar evictions have taken place since the Oslo Accords were signed. Now the intention is to continue to rid a huge piece of territory in the heart of the West Bank of Palestinian-Bedouins, so as to continue to expand the settlements. If the eviction of the community that went public thanks to the school it built out of tires, is successful, that will be the signal for mass evictions of other Palestinian communities.

The High Court made its request, and attorneys Ran Rosenberg and Hadas Eran wrote:

Those evicted will first be moved to tents, which will be supplied by the state, at a site known as Jahalin-West (near the Ma’ale Adumim garbage dump). Then at some time in the future, they and three other communities from the same sub-tribe, Abu Dahuk, will be allocated an area of 255 dunams (63.7 acres), on which to build their houses. If they want, “there is also a possibility of connecting the structures of the plan to be advanced to the water line that is 1.3 kilometers away.” Wow! Running water, what a tempting offer. The evacuees from Amona certainly didn’t get that.

And that’s not all. There’s another advanced planning possibility, and that’s to connect them to the sewage system. This is what the attorneys wrote, backed up by an affidavit from Major Yaniv Ben-Shoshan, deputy head of infrastructure in the Civil Administration: “At the environmental level, in this area the possibility exists for connecting the sewage infrastructure to the sewage treatment plant of Vered Yeriho, which is near the proposed alternative (east of Mitzpeh Yeriho).”

Thus, in an aside, a document presented to High Court justices states that the proposed alternative is next to the Vered Yeriho sewage treatment plant.

>> EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about the West Bank Bedouin village at the eye of a diplomatic storm

Really? Aerial photos attached to the proposal, also given to the Bedouin’s attorney, Tawfiq Jabarin, were not clear. He asked and received clearer photos, which showed that the proposed site is not close to the settlement’s sewage treatment plant, but rather to the large, regional, Og Sewage Treatment Plant. That plant treats the sewage of the settlements of Ma’ale Adumim and Kfar Adumim. Oh, the irony. Those are the settlements pushing to evict the Bedouin from where they are now living.

After Jabarin exposed this cover-up and the failings of the Civil Administration’s planning, it was buffed up a little. The size of the site will be reduced, so it will be a little farther away from the sewage. The improved version of the plan, submitted by the attorneys, conceals the previous cover-up.

The attorneys once again baptized the large treatment site with the name Vered Yeriho, and only in parentheses did they add Og. But this name does not exist on other official documents. They make do with the name HaOg S.T.P. And we just have one question: Why conceal from the judges that they are being asked to approve an eviction to a site at the edge of a regional sewage treatment plant?