Historic Israeli military documents obtained by Haaretz newspaper have shed fresh light on the occupation authorities’ long-standing attempts to forcibly displace Bedouin Palestinians living near Jerusalem.
The documents, dating from the 1970s and early 1980s, confirm that contemporary plans to expel Palestinians in Khan Al-Ahmar are part of decades-old efforts to clear West Bank land for Jewish settlement expansion.
On 10 December 1975, Maj. Rani Langer, chief of staff for the head of Israel army Central Command, said that Minister Yisrael Galili had asked for a working paper to be drawn up about “places where the Bedouin population is concentrated” in the West Bank.
The minister further requested “recommendations for a permanent settlement of this population, in addition to ways of creating incentives for this, in places that don’t disturb [Jewish] settlement plans and aren’t expected to undermine them in the future.”
In 1981, meanwhile, Middle East studies expert Dr. Moshe Sharon submitted a “detailed survey of the Bedouin in the West Bank, which was widely circulated, including among military governors of the various districts and several Shin Bet security service officers”.
As described by Haaretz, “Sharon explicitly linked the plan to permanently settle the Bedouin to the Jewish settlements”, writing: “The main problem the Jahhalin pose is the fact that they have gained a hold on land intended for [Jewish] settlement or near it.”
Khan Al-Ahmar is home to Al-Jahhalin Bedouins, who are refugees from the Negev desert that have lived in the area since their displacement by the Israeli army in 1967. Israel has refused to recognise Al-Jahhalin Bedouin communities or grant them building permits, a strategy often used by Israel to term any Bedouin home illegal.