IDF removes Palestinian protest shacks supporting illegal Bedouin hamlet

Israel dismantled five shacks that were set up by Palestinians protesting the anticipated razing of the illegal Khan al-Ahmar hamlet.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

Israeli forces on Thursday dismantled five corrugated metal shacks that had been set up by Palestinian activists protesting the anticipated razing of a nearby illegal Bedouin hamlet.

Protest leader Abdullah Abu Rahmeh said about 200 soldiers converged on the area of the Khan al-Ahmar encampment before dawn, dismantled the shacks and loaded the parts onto trucks. The encampment itself was not touched. Protesters chanted “Out, out, terrorist army,” as the trucks and soldiers left after daybreak.

There were no violent clashes, despite threats by residents.

Israel’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal last week, paving the way for Khan al-Ahmar’s potential demolition. Israel says Khan al-Ahmar was illegally built and in an unsafe location near a major highway. It has offered to resettle the residents 12 kilometers (7 miles) away under what it says are improved conditions — with connections to water, electricity and sewage treatment they currently don’t have. The residents have rejected all alternatives offered to them.

The encampment has become a rallying cry for Palestinians and focused attention on what they allege is their “displacement” by Israel. European countries urged Israel last week to refrain from demolition and removal of the 180 or so residents.

COGAT, the Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs in Judea and Samaria, said its supervisory unit removed the structures, which were placed near the Israeli community of Kfar Adumim and with the encouragement of Palestinian Authority (PA) officials in defiance of the Supreme Court ruling.

The ruling appeared to clear the final obstacle in a case that has been in legal limbo for nearly a decade, pitting what Israel says is a matter of law and order against the Palestinian claims of a creeping annexation of territory they seek for a future state.

The village is in the 60 percent of Judea and Samaria known as Area C, which remains under full Israeli control and is home to dozens of Israeli communities.

The Jahalin Bedouin is an offshoot of a larger tribe based in southern Israel, in the Arad region. After a blood feud erupted within the tribe in the 1970s, some of the families were forced out and migrated north through the Judean desert, arriving and settling in their present location after the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

The location of the illegal structures is hazardous due to its proximity to a major highway. Khan al Ahmar is adjacent to and overlooks the road that connects Jerusalem to the south of Israel in a strategic area that bisects the country.

Their battle for the land is part of a PA- and European Union-orchestrated program of building strategically located outposts that undermine the basis of the Oslo Accords and create facts on the ground.