Khan al-Ahmar is one of a dozen Bedouin communities that lie between Jerusalem and the Israeli settlement of Kfar Adumim. Khan al-Ahmar sits at a crossroads in the E1 area between Kfar Adumim and the jobs in the Jerusalem area where most of its settlers work, and for more than a decade, Israel has been trying to evict its residents. Between 2006 and 2018, the Israel Defense Force’s Civil Administration has demolished 26 homes in Khan al-Ahmar, leaving 132 people homeless.
Since March 5, 2017, the village has been fighting a prolonged legal battle with the IDF Civil Administration, which issued demolition orders for the entire village, including a mosque and school. In May 2018, Israel’s High Court rejected the Khan al-Ahmar residents’ petition against the demolition orders, and it approved state plans to demolish the village and relocate residents to al-Eizariya on the opposite side of Maale Adumim. The Court heard a new petition from residents in August 2018 and asked both sides to settle, but ultimately determined the May ruling to be conclusive.
The European Parliament, International Criminal Court, Jewish community and religious leaders in the US, and various human rights organizations responded with statements against the demolition, deeming it a violation of international law. In October 2018, the Israeli government announced the village’s demolition would be delayed until the 2019 elections concluded, and a new government was put into place. There were ultimately three elections, the third took place in March 2020, and ultraright parties in Israel made an election issue of promising to finish the demolition that PM Netanyahu put off under European and ICC pressure.
While the Civil Administration has been rigorously demolishing any new structures in the area since September 2019, it has left Khan al-Ahmar alone so long as new structures are not built there. As of July 2020, the full-village demolition ordered by the court in 2018 has yet to take place, and the future of the village remains uncertain.
Khan al-Ahmar is home to the Jahalin Bedouin tribe. Although originally from the Negev Desert, the Jahalin were forcibly relocated to the then Jordanian-controlled West Bank by the Israeli military in 1951. The Jahalin leased Khan al Ahmar’s land from a Palestinian living in Anata. Israel took over the West Bank in the 1967 war, and in 1975 expropriated the land where Khan al-Ahmar sits, making it Israeli state land zoned for an industrial zone of the Maale Adumim settlement. The Israeli authorities have always denied the village permits for building and basic utilities, including water, electricity, and sewage, forcing the residents to live in squalid conditions. Israeli courts have ruled that the residents must leave because the village was constructed without permits, although the Fourth Geneva Convention states that the destruction of civilian homes in territory occupied through war constitutes a war crime “unless the security of the civilians involved or imperative military reasons so demand.”
The Demolition of Khan Al-Amar would have Disastrous Consequences, Delegation of France, September 2018
Khan Al-Ahmar: Israel Court approves demolition of Bedouin Village, BBC, September 2018
Israel delays Palestinian Village Khan al Ahmar Demolition Order, Al Jazeera, October 2018
Khan Al-Ahmar: School is Out, DCI Palestine, February 2014