Israel's destruction of Palestinian village is 'war crime': Amnesty

Israel's destruction of Palestinian village is 'war crime': Amnesty
Amnesty International has deplored Israel's decision to go ahead with the demolition of the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar in occupied East Jerusalem.
3 min read
07 September, 2018
A Palestinian walking past a primary school in Khan al-Ahmar [Getty]
Amnesty International has deplored Israel’s destruction of the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar, saying the illegitimate move constitutes a “war crime”.

The rights groups’ statement accused Israel of “shamefully” carrying out an “unlawful” attack on the Bedouin village, which will leave more than 170 Bedouin Palestinians, including 92 children, displaced.

Under Israeli plans, the residents will be relocated next to a nearby landfill before being moved next to a sewage plant.

“With this shameful and manifestly unlawful ruling the Supreme Court has confirmed a pattern of complicity in the crime of forcible transfer of Palestinian communities for the expansion of Jewish only settlements”, Saleh Higazi, Head of Office in Jerusalem for Amnesty International said.

“The court has not only completely denied the petitioners the protection provided to them by International Humanitarian Law, it has also validated the discriminatory policies of the Israeli authorities.”

A Palestinian protester with a t-shirt that reads 'Khan al-Ahmar is a red line', playing on the word ahmar meaning the colour red in Arabic [Getty]

He urged the international community to take action: “If the international community does not immediately take the necessary action to stop this crime from taking place, thousands of other Palestinians surrounding Jerusalem and in the Jordan Valley will now face an imminent risk of forced displacement.”

Israel’s Supreme Court earlier this week rejected appeals to raze Khan al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank and announced the demolition will go ahead, in a move that sparked outrage across the world.

"We reject the petitions" against the directive to demolish Khan al-Ahmar, the Supreme Court panel said in its decree on Wednesday, adding that a temporary order preventing the razing of the village during court hearings "will be cancelled within seven days from today."

Israeli authorities are now able to decide when exactly they want to demolish the village.

Israeli settlers on Friday stormed the East Jerusalem village and were met by Palestinians who managed to put an end to what could have been a violent situation by forcing them away.

The present village, which has a population of 173, including 92 children, consists mainly of makeshift structures of tin and wood, as is generally the case with Bedouin sites.

The residents of the village are being given two options for relocation - first to live by a landfill in Abu Dis, until a structure next to a sewage plant close to Jehrico can be arranged.

The village is being demolished under the Israeli pretext of being built without a permit.

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.