Israeli troops destroy activists’ shacks ahead of controversial Khan al-Ahmar demolition
Israel is going ahead with the plan to raze the Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank, in the face of strong international criticism
Khan al-Ahmar — Israeli troops removed caravans on Thursday from near a Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank which they have orders to demolish despite international criticism, an AFP photographer reported.
The pre-dawn operation on the outskirts of Khan al-Ahmar raised fear among the villlage’s 200 residents that its demolition had begun.
The soldiers took away five caravans which had been pitched by activists campaigning against the village’s demolition.
The army blocked off access to the village and there were no clashes during the operation, the AFP photographer said.
The Israeli defence ministry body that oversees the Palestinian territories, said the five caravans had been pitched illegally over the past few days.
"The erection of these structures was advanced by representatives of the Palestinian Authority in protest and defiance of the decision of the (Israeli) High Court of Justice, and in opposition to the enforcement of Israeli law in Area C," it said, referring to the 61% of the West Bank where the army exercises full civil as well as military authority.
On September 5, Israel’s supreme court upheld an order to raze the village on grounds that it was built without the proper permits.
Palestinians say it is virtually impossible for them to obtain Israeli permits to build in Area C of the West Bank, where Khan al-Ahmar is situated.
A temporary stay against the village’s demolition expired on Wednesday, meaning that the army now starts implementing the court order as and when it sees fit.
On Monday, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain issued a renewed call for Israel not to demolish the village, warning of the consequences for residents as well as "the prospects of the two-state solution".
Khan al-Ahmar lies in a strategic area east of Jerusalem near several major Israeli settlements close to a highway to the Dead Sea between the Weast Bank and Jordan.
There have been repeated warnings that persistent Israeli settlement expansion in the area could effectively cut the West Bank in two further damaging the prospects for a viable Palestinian state.
Israeli authorities have offered alternative sites for Khan al-Ahmar residents, but villagers say the first was near a rubbish dump and the latest close to a sewage treatment plant.