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Israeli Supreme Court halts plans to demolish Khan al-Ahmar

By Danielle Haynes
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Israeli Supreme Court halts plans to demolish Khan al-Ahmar
Bedouin children from the Jahalain tribe stand at the entrance to their house Tuesday in the village of Khan al-Ahmar, West Bank, which is facing immediate demolition by Israel. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

July 6 (UPI) -- The Supreme Court of Israel temporarily halted plans to demolish a Palestinian Bedouin village in the West Bank after questions arose about the legality of the settlement.

The high court said Thursday that the Khan al-Ahmar village can stand while Israel responds to allegations of discriminatory building practices. Alaa Mahaina, an attorney representing the 52 families in the village, said the villagers attempted to file a building plan to allow them to remain there, but the Civil Administration refused to accept it.

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The government has until Wednesday to respond to the allegations.

This isn't the first Bedouin village to be targeted for demolition by the Israeli government. On Wednesday, Israel Defense Forces destroyed the village of Abu Nawwar, located near Khan al-Ahmar. It left 62 people homeless.

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The government also tore down a school there, saying it had been built illegally. Israel wants to expand the Israeli settlement of Kfar Adumim.

On the same day, Khan al-Ahmar villagers clashed with police over the impending demolition of their own community. Police said 11 people were arrested during disturbances at the site, some for throwing rocks at officers.

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Officials plan to move the Khan al-Ahmar residents to Al Jabel, a village near the Abu Dis garbage dump. Several dozen families from the Bedouin clan of Jahalin moved to Khan al-Ahmar after their expulsion from the Negev in the 1950s. Homes were built on state-owned land.

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"The latest developments are of serious concern as it is evident that they are undertaken with the objective of relocating the concerned communities, as well as causing serious distress to the vulnerable residents who are watching what appear to be preparations for the demolition of their community," said Scott Anderson, head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

"These pastoral communities are mostly Palestinian refugees - originally displaced from their tribal lands in the Negev. They should not be forced to experience a second displacement against their will," he added.

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