Israel’s top court today suspended the planned demolition of a Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank whose fate has become a focus of Palestinian protests and international concern, a lawyer for the residents said, Reuters reports.
The Supreme Court injunction, issued a day after Israeli security forces violently attacked protesters in Khan Al-Ahmar, gave the state until 11 July to respond to the villagers’ contention that they had been unfairly denied building permits, lawyer Alaa Mahajna told Reuters.
The court spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Around 180 Bedouin, raising sheep and goats, live in tin and wood shacks in Khan Al-Ahmar.
Last year Israeli authorities informed the High Court that they plan to seize the land where the community is located and displace its residents, although the land is registered as owned by Palestinian citizens from the nearby town of Anata. The land is set to be used to expand nearby illegal Jewish only settlements.
The residents of Khan Al-Ahmar, known as Al-Jahhalin Bedouins, are refugees from the Negev desert who have lived in the area south of Jerusalem since their displacement by the Israeli army in 1967.
Israel has refused to recognise Al-Jahhalin Bedouin communities or grant them building permits.
Palestinians say Israeli building permits for Khan al-Ahmar have been impossible to get. Israel has long sought to clear Bedouin from the area between the two settlements, and the Supreme Court approved the demolition in May.
Removing the Bedouin, human rights groups say, would create a bigger settlement pocket near Jerusalem and make it more difficult for Palestinians to achieve territorial contiguity in the West Bank, a territory they seek along with the Gaza Strip for a future state.
Israel said it plans to relocate the residents to an area about 12 kilometres (seven miles) away, near the Palestinian village of Abu Dis.
The new site is adjacent to a landfill and rights advocates say that a forcible transfer of the residents would violate international law applying to occupied territory. The United Nations and European Union have come out against the plan.
Most countries regard settlements Israel has built in the West Bank as illegal. Israel disputes this.
Khan al-Ahmar’s residents belong to the Jahalin tribe of Bedouin who were expelled from southern Israel by the military in the 1950s.
Interviewed before the Supreme Court injunction on Thursday, Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan signalled that the Khan al-Ahmar demolition might not be imminent.
Noting the level of international opposition to the move, Erdan told the Ynet news site: “I hope this decision will be implemented in the coming weeks.”
Situation of Palestinian villages of Khan al-Ahmar and Abu Nuwar.
The demolition of infrastructure and dwellings in the #WestBank
goes against international humanitarian law.
Our statement: https://t.co/eFnnAReAaG pic.twitter.com/0y1JylQjo4
— France Diplomacy🇫🇷 (@francediplo_EN) July 4, 2018