The imminent demolition of Khan al Ahmar
On May 24, the Israeli High Court of Justice rejected the petition of the residents of the Bedouin village Khan Al Ahmar against the planned demolition of their community. As a result, the demolition of their homes is now imminent. As we have detailed previously (see here and here), the scope of the demolition threat advanced by the Israeli government is unprecedented, as it will result in the destruction of an entire village, including one of the only schools accessible to Bedouin communities living in the area. It will likewise involve the forcible transfer of 180 people - something that would be a war crime.
This week, over 300 public figures from around the world published an open letter entitled “Forcible Transfer is a War Crime.” EU heads of mission made a public visit to Khan al Ahmar and issued a statement calling on Israel not to carry out the demolitions and noting that “Displacing the community would be in contravention with Israel's obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law.” In a separate initiative, 100 UK Parliamentarians sent a letter calling on Israel's ambassador to stop demolition and forcible transfer of Palestinian Bedouin community of Khan al Ahmar
In addition, a growing number of Israeli voices are being heard condemning the planned demolition, including an extraordinary statement from Sallai Meridor, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States who is also a founder of the Kfar Adumim settlement. Meridor published an open letter condemning petitions to the High Court submitted by his own settlement supporting the demolition of Khan al Ahmar, noting “What morality drove us to wish for the banishment of people for the second time, after their families were banished from the State of Israel in the 1950s?".
As we have noted previously: Khan al Ahmar is located located northeast of Jerusalem, between Maale Adumim and Kfar Adumim, north of Road No. 1. The demolition of the village will make way for construction of the long-planned settlement of E-1.
Relative calm at the Haram al sharif/Temple Mount during Ramadan
According to OCHA, 87,000 and 122,000 Palestinians were allowed to enter Jerusalem from the West Bank on the second and third Fridays of Ramadan, respectively. Unlike last year, Gaza worshippers were not allowed to travel to Jerusalem for Friday prayers, except for international organizations’ staff based Gaza (according to Gisha). Reportedly, 200,000 Muslim worshippers attended the last Friday prayers of Ramadan.
While the month of Ramadan was not disrupted by violent confrontations in Jerusalem, on June 6 the entry of Jews to the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif esplanade sparked tensions. The visits of Jewish visitors to the Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount during Ramadan have been a recurrent source of tensions in previous years, especially in the last 10 days of Ramadan. This year, after two days of tensions, the Israeli police announced that the esplanade would be closed to Jewish visitors until the end of Ramadan.
Israel’s persistent efforts to evict Batan Al-Hawa/Silwan residents
On June 10, Israel’s Supreme court held the hearing of the petition of the residents of Batan Al-Hawa, a Silwan neighborhood, threatened to be evicted as a result of the transfer of their land by the Custodian General to a settlers’ trust, controlled by Ateret Cohanim, in 2002. During the hearing, the State’s attorney admitted that the transfer to the trust has been done without a proper investigation of the trust by the Ministry of Justice. Yet, in the same breath, Israeli State’s attorney asked the court to dismiss anyway the petition on the ground that it was filed 16 years after the transfer and claimed a lack of information. The admission of the State’s attorney, and its decision to turn a blind eye on the flaws that characterized the transfer to the trust, demonstrate in the most unequivocal way the extent of the government’s complicity with the settlers’ activities and its backing for their agenda even when it requires a blunt violation of the law. On June 18, the Court ordered the State to provide more information about the decision to transfer the land (to be provided within 30 days) and also requested additional information from the petitioners.
We already reported several times on the settlers’ determination to expand their presence and create a settlement enclave in the heart of this Palestinian neighborhood (see here and here). Al Jazeera’s video report on this specific case is here.