by Jerusalem Team.
The Israeli authorities plan to expand the settlement Ma’ale Adumim and connect it to Jerusalem was approved by the Israeli government 1999. The plan, commonly referred to as the E1 Plan, has long been opposed by the international community as an obstacle to the realization of the two-state solution. Several events that have taken place in recent months indicate an acceleration of the implementation of this plan.
The E1 zone comprises of twelve hectares of land east of Jerusalem. The planned construction in this area will create an urban bloc between the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem, further isolating East Jerusalem from other Palestinian towns in the West Bank. Travel between Jerusalem, Jericho, and Ramallah will become more difficult as the plan will disrupt the ”territorial contiguity between the northern and southern parts of the West Bank”. Some people believe that this might be the end of the dream of a viable Palestinian state altogether.
The E1 plan also has serious implications for Bedouin communities as several of them live in or near the E1 zone marked for settlement expansion. These implications will extend to Bedouin communities in Israeli-controlled Area C, who will be also affected by Israel’s ”relocation plan”. In total, 7000 Bedouins in 46 different communities will be affected by the plan. Of this number, 2800 Bedouins in 18 different communities are threatened by forcible transfer should the plan be fully implemented. 85 % of them are already refugees and many of them have demolition orders pending against their houses.
The UN Secretary-General has stated that the implementation of the proposed “relocation” would amount to forcible transfers and forced evictions, contravening Israel’s obligations as an occupying power under humanitarian law and human rights law.
Recently, the number of demolition orders issued to homes in Bedouin communities within the E1 area has increased. Usama Risheq, Coordinator at the Monitor & Documentation unit at the Legal Clinic at Al-Quds University expresses his concern:
“I think there is something big coming. Last year there were twelve demolitions in Abu Nwar,” says Usama.
On the 28th of April, the Israeli authorities ordered several families in Abu Nwar to move to the Al Jabal area outside East Jerusalem. Later on the 4th of August, seven demolition orders were issued to families of the Jahalin tribe in Jabal Al Baba. The Abu Nwar and Jabal Al Baba communities are both located in the E1 area.
“The army took pictures of three of the houses. This usually means that they will be demolished soon”, Usama Says.
Sadly Usama’s predictions were true. On the August 17, four communities located near the area of the planned E-1 settlement were targeted with a demolition sweep. 22 structures were demolished in four communities Khan al Ahmar Abu Falah, Wadi Sneysel, Bir Miskoob and Az Zayyem Bedouin, displacing 78 Palestinians, including 49 children.
“According to UN records, this is the largest number of Palestinians displaced in the West Bank in one day in nearly three years.” Significantly, the four communities that were hit with demolitions are among the communities located in the central West Bank that are included in Israel’s plans for Bedouin relocation.
Furthermore, on August 18, Israeli authorities demolished 17 structures in the Jordan Valley. The demolitions left 48 people including 31 Minors homeless. Since 5 Aug. 2015, the Civil Administration has demolished 31 residential buildings and 26 other structures in Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley, in the vicinity of Ma’ale Adumim, and in the southern Hebron hills. A total of 167 people have lost their homes in these actions, including 101 minors. (Read full text here)
Forcible transfer is considered a violation of international humanitarian law and human rights law. According to the law, the occupying power is obligated to protect the civilian population in the occupied territories. Nor is Israel as an occupying power allowed to transfer settlers into the occupied territory. If the Bedouins are forcibly transferred, many facets of their traditional lifestyle and livelihood will be threatened. One of the concerns that Bedouins have is that they will not be able to bring their livestock to the planned urban townships and therefore their main source of livelihood will be undermined. In addition families will be forced to live in very close proximity to one another, in contravention of their socio-cultural norms.
The E1 plan could therefore spell the end of the Bedouin lifestyle in Palestine as well as the end of a viable Palestinian state in the future. For these reasons our vocal opposition to this plan is more important than ever.
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Press Release: UN Officials call for an immediate demolitions freeze in the West Bank
B’Tselem: Civil Administration continues demolition sweep: 14 Bedouin families left homeless in the Ma’ale Adumim area today
B’Tselem: 40 Degrees in the Shade: Civil Administration Destroys Homes of 48 people in Jordan Valley, including 31 Minors
UNOCHA: Bedouin Communities at Risk of Forcible Transfer
B’Tselem: The E1 Plan and its Implications for Human Rights in the West Bank
Interactive map on B’Teslem’s “Facing Expulsion” live blog
WATCH: Nowhere left to go to learn more about the impending displacement of Bedouin refugees in the Jerusalem Periphery area, by the Israeli military. For more information go visit www.jahalin.org
Perhaps as internationals we need to be asking our governments what they are doing to stop the human rights and international human rights law violations occurring in the West Bank. With the UN once again calling for a cease to forced evacuations due to home demolitions, is this not an action we can all take? And not to take the usual replies as the final answer.
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