Netanyahu warns Bedouin village to be destroyed again 'very soon'

Netanyahu warns Bedouin village to be destroyed again 'very soon'
Israel's PM reassured fellow party members that the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar would go ahead 'very soon', as he scrambles for right-wing support ahead of next year's elections.
2 min read
27 November, 2018
Demolition of the village was frozen after a sustained protest campaign [Getty]

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told fellow lawmakers from his Likud party on Monday that the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar will be demolished "very soon".

Israel's leader reiterated a pledge he made to the cabinet last week that preparations were underway for the razing of a Bedouin village, although the exact date of the demolition is yet to be confirmed.

Israeli defence official told The Times of Israel that there were no current plans to destroy the hamlet, which is home to some 180 Palestinian Bedouins.

Plans to demolish the strategically located village were frozen in October after the cause of its residents drew international recognition thanks to prolonged protest efforts.

"I have no intention on delaying it indefinitely, but for a short, limited period," Netanyahu said on announcing the demolition was on hold.

However, the surprise move to cancel Khan al-Ahmar's destruction raised the ire of Netanyahu's right-wing coalition partners with, the prime minister due for re-election next year.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett insisted the demolition continue "even if the international community opposes and threatens", pledging his far-right Jewish Home party would "ensure it happens".

The village was being razed in order to make space for an Israeli settlement

Israeli claims that the small village, located east of Jerusalem along a road leading to the Dead Sea, was built illegally, and they have given residents until the beginning of October to leave and demolish their structures.

But activists say the villagers had little alternative but to build without Israeli construction permits, which are almost never issued to Palestinians.

Applying for building permits also comes with various taxes and fees that amount to tens of thousands of dollars - an unaffordable move for many Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, where 27 percent live under the poverty line.

Applications for building permits are also known to take years to be processed, giving Israeli courts a loophole to increase Palestinian home demolitions by branding structures as "illegal".

Khan al-Ahmar is located in the 60 percent of the West Bank known as Area C, which remains under exclusive Israeli control and is home to hundreds of Israeli settlements.

Israeli authorities plan to expand Israeli settlement building into the area, in order to then annexe a belt of settled West Bank land into Israel proper.

The EU, Amensty International and others have branded Israel's efforts to destory the village as a "war crime".

Agencies contributed to this report.