Israeli Forces Take Down Protest Huts in Bedouin Village

KHAN AL-AHMAR (Reuters/Hamodia) -
Palestinian Bedouin dwellings are seen as the sun rises over the village of Khan al-Ahmar that Israel plans to demolish, Thursday. (REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma)

Israel security forces on Thursday dismantled several shacks built by Palestinian protesters near Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin village that Israel has slated for demolition.

The action drew an outcry from the European Parliament, which called it a grave violation of international law and urged the European Union to respond in a manner “commensurate with the seriousness of this development.”

The European Union subsequently demanded that Israel compensate it for investments of approximately €315,000 ($367,000) for infrastructure in the village, including a school partially funded by the EU.

Reuters witnesses said Israeli forces arrived at the village of 180 people before sunrise on Thursday and began taking down the newly built protest huts, without touching the Bedouin encampment, the fate of which has become a focus of Palestinian protests and international concern.

Israel’s military liaison agency with the Palestinians, COGAT, said on Twitter that five “movable structures that were illegally transported & installed” in the area had been taken down.

The five new huts had been assembled this week by activists from several rights groups and the Palestinian Authority in support of the Bedouin community.

Khan al-Ahmar is beside an Israeli highway that runs from Yerushalayim to the Dead Sea.

Israel’s plan to demolish the village and relocate its 180 residents — Bedouins who scrape a living by raising sheep and goats — to a site 7 miles away has drawn criticism from Palestinians and some European states, who cite the impact on the community and prospects for peace. The relocation site was named as Abu Dis, a suburb of Yerushalayim.

Last week, Israel’s High Court rejected petitions to prevent the move, siding with the authorities who say the village was built without required permits. Palestinians say such documents are impossible to obtain.

The village is in the 60 percent of Yehudah and Shomron known as Area C, which remains under exclusive Israeli control. Israel places severe restrictions on Palestinian development there and home demolitions are not unusual. But the removal of an entire community would be extremely unusual, according to The Associated Press.

On Tuesday, UN Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov warned that demolition of the village would adversely affect peace efforts.

Mladenov said the planned demolition of the village would “undermine the prospect for two-state solution and is against international law.