Ecumenical Accompaniers from the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (WCC-EAPPI) report that residents, international non-governmental organizations, media, politicians have joined local Palestinian and Israeli peace activists in nonviolence resistance, protesting demolition actions by Israeli forces in the Khan al Ahmar Bedouin community.
Khan al Ahmar is a Bedouin community located in East Jerusalem, in the E1 area. It is home to 32 families, 173 people, including 92 children and youths. The community has a mosque and a school, which was built in 2009 and serves more than 150 children between the ages of six and fifteen, from Khan al Ahmar and other nearby communities. On 24 May the Israel High Court approved the Israeli Defense Minister’s order to demolish Khan Al-Ahmar village.
The High Court has now issued a temporary restraining order freezing the demolition and ordered the state to respond to the Palestinians’ claims by 11 July. After the state submits its response, the High Court will either decide to reject the petition and allow the state to resume the demolition process, or conduct deliberations that could delay or prevent the demolitions.
The Khan Al Ahmar community has a history of being forced from their homes. The Bedouin village is home to a few dozen families from the Jahalin tribe, which was expelled from its home in the Negev to the West Bank in the 1950s.
A spokesperson from Khan Al Ahmar community, Abu Khamis, believes there is a hidden agenda behind demolition orders. “Now it starts with us; later it will effect all Bedouin communities in West Bank in favor of illegal Israeli settlement expansion”, said Khamis.
Abu Khamis expressed his hope saying” I hope that the international community understands the responsibility they hold here, knowing that these actions and threats jeopardize the achievement of a just peace in occupied Palestinian territories”.
“A large majority of its population is Palestinian refugees from 1948, who have very few sources of income left; they suffer a serious lack of health and welfare services. They live without basic infrastructure such as an electricity network, a sewage system or proper roads. Demolishing their homes and school would deprive them of all they have left.”
EAPPI was created in 2002 by the WCC based on a letter and an appeal from local church leaders to create an international presence in the country.