Israel may relocate Khan al-Ahmar 300 metres away

The West Bank Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar (Majdi Mohammed - AP)

Middle East Monitor  /  January 26, 2022

Israel could relocate the Khan al-Ahmar community 300 metres away, to the opposite side of Route 1 as an alternative to razing the village.

The option comes in light of the continued pressure from the international community and the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) warning that the eviction and displacement of the Palestinian residents amounts to a war crime, reported Channel 12.

Eid Jahalin, a Palestinian resident of the village, told Army Radio yesterday that he and his neighbours are against the plan.

“We all oppose this plan. No one came to ask the people, they decided alone,” he said.

Khan al-Ahmar, which has been demolished and rebuilt several times in recent years, is in the West Bank, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Kfar Adumim, and close to Route 1, a highway that connects East Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley.

The extremist Jewish pro-settler group, Regavim, slammed the reported relocation move as “delusional”. The organization which takes legal action against so-called “illegal” Palestinian construction, petitioned the Israeli court last year, demanding it to force the government to remove the village, following a decision that had been approved three years ago.

In September 2018, Israel’s Supreme Court approved the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar, despite calls from European countries, human rights organizations and activists for Israel to halt the process.

However, the order to raze the village was first issued in 2009, over ten years ago.

With their position in the so-called E1 area, where an Israeli settlement expansion project is planned along the Jerusalem-Jericho road, Palestinian communities in Khan al-Ahmar have battled for their existence for decades.

Moreover, a member of the Israeli Knesset, Bezalel Smotrich, also criticized the potential relocation in a tweet as “an unforgivable strategic Zionist [act of] foolishness.”

The Khan al-Ahmar village comprises some 35 families, whose makeshift homes and schools, mostly made of corrugated metal and wood, were demolished by the Israeli army several times before 2018.

Israeli occupation forces maintain that the homes must be demolished because they were built without the almost impossible to attain building permits. Meanwhile, the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim has been growing since 1975; it is now home to more than 37,000 illegal Jewish settlers.