In May 2018, the Israeli Supreme Court gave military authorities the green light to expel 180 Palestinian-Bedouin residents from Khan al-Ahmar-Abu al-Helu and “relocate” the community between a landfill and auto scrapyard in nearby Abu Dis. The decision, which came after almost a decade of legal battles launched by residents, drew attention from rights organizations across the world.
Over the past few months, the status of the Palestinian-Bedouin hamlet slipped from the international radar, as the community braced itself for pending demolition by the Israeli military. The residents, who are made up of refugees originally expelled from their homes in the Negev desert in the 1950s by Israeli forces, have used all available legal avenues in order to delay, if not prevent, their mass displacement.
Khan al-Ahmar is located just east of Jerusalem between the Israeli colonies of Maale Adumim and Kfar Adumim in the central West Bank. Official documents show that the hamlet, in addition to several nearby villages, was first targeted for demolition by Israeli authorities in the 1970s, in order to create a strategic corridor of illegal Israeli colonies stretching from Jerusalem to Jericho. By the late 1990s, an official plan, known as the E1 master plan, had been approved and put into action, in order to secure urban contiguity between occupied Jerusalem and the city-settlement of Maale Adumim. In 2010, Khan al-Ahmar was officially slated for demolition, in order to expand adjacent Israeli colonies in the E1 corridor.
After further petitioning by Khan al-Ahmar’s residency, in early August 2018, a panel of judges ordered the Israeli government to provide residents with an alternative to the Abu Dis relocation site. Now, Israeli authorities appear to be using this ruling to expand their expulsion plans and potentially force out even more Palestinians from the E1 corridor. Hagai El-Ad, the Executive Director of Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, wrote a piece for +972 magazine last week outlining these new plans for Khan al-Ahmar and neighboring Palestinian communities. According to the proposal, residents of Khan al-Ahmar can avoid being relocated to an Abu Dis garbage dump and instead settle in a newly proposed site near Jericho, so long as they agree to leave their village “without violence” and convince three neighboring Bedouin communities to voluntarily relocate as well. As El-Ad explains:
The state did not even bother to come up with an excuse for this, but simply declared that the planned expulsion now includes not “only” the 30-plus families of Khan al-Ahmar, but the entire “four compounds of the Jahalin Abu Dahuk tribe, comprising some 80 families” — that is more than 400 people in total.
Residents have rejected the plan, as the proposed site near Jericho lies next to a sewage treatment plant. Still, the new proposal is yet more evidence that the Israeli state is looking to expel as many Palestinians as possible from the “Maale Adumim bubble.”
Read the full text of El-Ad’s article here.