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Khan al-Ahmar: The human rights impact of Israel’s settlement expansion (Amnesty International) Posted on 13 August 2013 by Livewire Team

Khan al-Ahmar: The human rights impact of Israel’s settlement expansion (Amnesty International) Posted on 13 August 2013 by Livewire Team

By Deborah Hyams, Israel/OPT/PA researcher at Amnesty International

For more than 60 years, the Jahalin Bedouin tribe has been struggling to maintain their way of life. Forced from their tribal lands in the Negev/Naqab desert in the1950s, they have been continually harassed, pressured and resettled by successive Israeli governments, seemingly intent on squeezing them out of existence. And the latest Israeli decisions to expand illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank will mean further hardships for these communities.

Just yesterday, plans were approved for about 900 new apartments in Gilo, a settlement in occupied East Jerusalem.

On Sunday, the Israeli Ministry of Housing announced tenders for the construction of 1,200 new housing units in settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The announcement includes the Israeli settlements of Ma’ale Adumim and Pisgat Ze’ev, which surround the area where several Jahalin communities have lived for decades. Several other plans for settlement construction have been pushed forward recently.

All this brought to mind my latest visit to the Jahalin community in Khan al-Ahmar two months ago.

Entering the village in a vehicle was impossible. As we approached on the main highway, built to connect illegal Israeli settlements in the rest of the West Bank with those in East Jerusalem, we could clearly see the village on the hillside next to the road. But there was no route in.

The village of Khan al-Ahmar is home to one of the 20 Jahalin Bedouin communities who have been threatened by Israeli settlement expansion in the area east of Jerusalem, also known as “E1”, for years. The communities are made up of 2,300 refugees who were originally displaced by Israel in the 1950s.

The Israeli authorities have blocked the old road leading to the village, and failed to provide safe alternative access. It’s as if Khan al-Ahmar has been wiped off Israeli maps. The Israeli authorities are still seeking to forcibly transfer its residents.

To reach the village I, together with other delegates from Amnesty International, had to get off our bus on the busy highway and climb down into the dirt track beneath the main road and then climb up the hill to Khan al-Ahmar on foot. While the cars and trucks hurtled by behind us, we realized that school children take this path every day.

Traditionally, the Jahalin earned their living from a pastoral economy which depends on access to grazing lands. For decades their ability to maintain their way of life has been squeezed by the building of Jewish-only settlements, military bases, and nature reserves that encroached on the lands they use.

The relentless wave of illegal settlements continues. The announcements yesterday and on Sunday are in addition to Israeli proposals mooted last year to expand settlements in the E1 area. At the time the plans attracted widespread condemnation from governments around the world.

Such announcements are far more than just another “obstacle” to the renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Israel’s continuing settlement construction directly affects the rights of Palestinians living under military occupation in communities like Khan al-Ahmar. It compounds the litany of human rights violations they face on a daily basis, including the denial of their rights to adequate housing and water.

Many homes in the Jahalin communities have been destroyed by the Israeli military, and most others, as well as two primary schools, have demolition orders. The communities also suffer from recurring Israeli settler attacks on residents, including children, as well as on homes and water supplies. Those who commit these acts benefit from near-total impunity.

During our visit to Khan al-Ahmar, residents told us of their struggle to continue daily activities like herding their sheep and educating their children in the face of the settlements and the Israeli army. They stressed that the current Israeli plan to transfer the Jahalin communities represents the biggest threat to their existence yet.

For nearly two years, these communities have been fighting Israeli plans to forcibly transfer them from their homes. Initially the Israeli military proposed moving the Jahalin to a site very close to a municipal garbage dump, without consulting the communities. It was only following pressure from local NGOs and the international community that the Israeli authorities agreed to look at alternative sites. However, no genuine consultations have taken place yet.

Israel’s policies of settling Israeli civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and forcibly transferring Palestinians living under occupation violate the Fourth Geneva Convention and are considered war crimes, according to the statute of the International Criminal Court.

The USA, which is sponsoring the renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, as well as the EU and all concerned countries, must ensure that Israel complies with international law.

Israel must immediately scrap plans to forcibly transfer the Jahalin from their land, and cancel all demolition orders against their homes. It must also immediately halt the construction or expansion of Israeli settlements and related infrastructure in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as a first step towards removing Israeli civilians living in such settlements.

Driving away and looking back, we could see Khan al-Ahmar and the other Bedouin hamlets scattered in the midst of one of Israel’s biggest settlements projects. These refugee shepherds are isolated, standing in the face of this human rights crisis. They should not be left to stand alone.

Letter to Secretary of State John Kerry

June 26, 2013
San Jose, CA 95124

Secretary John F. Kerry
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry:

You have offered $4 billion to the Palestinians in investment to boost their economy. I was in Israel early this month, and Palestinians say that while the money might be nice, more important is to ease regulations and restrictions. Here is one example of an issue that needs your understanding and immediate intervention.

In 2009, a school was built of mud and tires in Al Khan Al-Ahmar, a Jahalin Bedouin encampment less than 10 miles from Jerusalem on the way to Jericho. The community received threats of demolition even while the school was being built, and a demolition order issued is still outstanding, while the Israeli military plan to forcibly move the entire encampment against their will. You must insist that there be no demolition or forced displacement at all. Israel has an obligation under international law to protect occupied populations and provide them with services and this is one instance of their not doing so.

Why was the primary school necessary? These Palestinian Bedouins are not Jerusalem residents, but refugees living under occupation. The closest school (for Palestinians – they are surrounded by Israeli settlements with many schools!) was in Jericho, 22 kilometers away. School bus service was non-existent and walking that distance each day is almost impossible, especially for little girls. Residents learned of an inexpensive way to build, out of mud clay and old tires, and received help from local organizations and European NGOs. I visited the encampment: the school buildings are bright and attractive, and Palestinian Authority teachers teach the 95 Bedouin children who attend school there.

Why would a demolition order be issued for a school? A permit had not been issued for the buildings – permits in Area C are virtually impossible for any Palestinian, but particularly for these Bedouin refugees who were displaced from the Negev desert in 1951 and live as UNRWA-registered refugees on Palestinian land not registered in their name – land claimed by the nearby settlers as “state land” but actually owned by Palestinians.

This community, and school, are part of the eastern Jerusalem periphery that has become strategically significant to the Israelis as part of the Greater Jerusalem/E1 Plan which targets this and other communities as “transfer sites” to allow major expansion of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement and its linkage to Jerusalem. This expansion would disrupt the territorial contiguity of the West Bank so that Palestinians on either side would need to travel impossibly long distances to reach each other, Jerusalem would be totally closed off on all sides for West Bank Palestinians, and, by being denied access to Jerusalem, the Palestinian economy would suffer a loss of 35% [NSU]. Thus my simple request to prevent demolition of a school serving 95 students escalates into the forefront of current Israeli policy.

I urge you to consider my request and make it a part of your plans for your next imminent trip to Israel.

Sincerely,

Martha B

Acting the Landlord: Israel’s Policy in Area C, the West Bank – B’Tselem report

Acting the Landlord: Israel’s Policy in Area C, the West Bank – B’Tselem report

June 2013

Not long ago, Israeli Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett, former chairman of the Judea, Samaria and Gaza Council, called on Israel to impose sovereignty unilaterally on Area C and then grant Israeli citizenship to Area C’s local Palestinian residents, whom he said numbered 50,000.

The above proposal considers Area C an independent region, separate from the rest of the West Bank. Yet the division of the West Bank into Areas A, B and C does not reflect a geographic reality, but rather an administrative division made as a part of the Interim Agreement of the Oslo Accords. The division was to have been temporary and to have enabled an incremental transfer of authority to the Palestinian Authority. It was not designed to address the needs of long-term demographic growth. Nonetheless, this “temporary” arrangement has remained in force for nearly twenty years.

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Palestinian Authority rejects plan for new Bedouin village in Jordan Valley – Middle East Monitor

The Palestinian Authority has rejected Israel’s plan to build a new village for the Bedouin population in the Jordan Valley region. The Minister of Housing and Public Works in Ramallah, Maher Ghoneim, told the Chinese Xinhua news agency that the plan announced by Israel’s Defence Minister is neither acceptable nor legal.

According to Mr Ghoneim, the proposal is a part of Israel’s efforts to establish “facts on the ground” unilaterally and “complicates” a two-state solution. He added that the Israeli authorities seek to gather the Jordan Valley Bedouin population in specific areas in order to control the valley and build even more illegal settlements there.

The village in question is planned to be built in the north of the Areha governorate, in so-called “Area C”, which falls under full Israeli control according to the terms of the Oslo Accords.

The Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, Major General Eitan Dangot, proposed the plan to house hundreds of Bedouin families after their forced evacuation from their land.

Source: Middle East Monitor

Israel approves construction to transfer West Bank Bedouin – Mondoweiss

Israel approves construction to transfer West Bank Bedouin – Mondoweiss
By Allison Deger

Israel has announced construction of a large-scale village near Jericho that planners are calling a “dump site” for Palestinian Bedouins residing outside of Jerusalem.

Mondoweiss became aware of the relocation after the Israeli daily Ma’ariv published a locality in the Jordan Valley was given a greenlight for construction. The initial Israeli report presented the village, “Nueimah,” as a rare, but innocuous example of new legal construction in the West Bank set to accommodate overpopulation. The locality will “make land pirated by Palestinians legal holdings” said a member of the government to Ma’ariv, explaining that the village was for those inhabiting areas of the West Bank without Israeli verified deeds, such as the Jahalin. Representatives for the Bedouin are now awaiting the customary publication of a detailed notice, which will open the 60-day period for public filings.

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 Read the full article here:
http://mondoweiss.net/2013/06/approves-construction-transfer.html

PRESS CONFERENCE at Al Khan al Ahmar to discuss Israeli forced displacement plans

PRESS CONFERENCE TO DISCUSS ISRAELI FORCED DISPLACEMENT PLANS FOR JAHALIN BEDOUIN

You are invited to a press conference to be held this Thursday, April 18th, at 11.00 a.m. at Al Khan al Ahmar (the site of the car tyres school), where Adv. Shlomo Lecker (lawyer for the community), BIMKOM – Planners for Planning Rights and Eid abu Khamis Jahalin, spokesman and director of The Jahalin Association will discuss Israeli Government plans to evict the Jahalin tribe from Area C to the Jericho region, against their will.

We hope to see you there. Please contact me for any further input or questions, at this email address: angela@jahalin.org or Adv. Shlomo Lecker at 0522 673 780.

Angela Godfrey-Goldstein,
Advocacy Officer,
The Jahalin Association, (Al Khan el Ahmar)
Tel: 0547 366 393

Bedouin face displacement in West Bank corridor, regardless of Israel’s constructions plans- Haaretz

Whether recently approved plans for construction in the E-1 area materialize or not, Israel plans to the relocate the local Bedouin population – against their will.

December 2012

“Ten Palestinian Bedouin communities living in the West Bank corridor connecting Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem  are concerned that if recently approved plans for construction in the area materialize, they will be the first to be harmed by the move, a member of the local Bedouin council told Haaretz on Tuesday.

But even if Israel continues the freeze on the development plans in the area known as E-1, these ten communities and another approximately ten communities living in the area – some 2,300 people – face displacement. Israel has been planning to resettle the Bedouin communities living in the West Bank, starting with the areas surrounding Jerusalem, in permanent settlements, against their will.

In October this year, the state told the High Court that it intends to complete this resettling process in the outskirts of Jerusalem, including the E1 area, within a year. Members of the Jihalin tribe, who are residents of Khan al-Ahmar, told Haaretz Tuesday that the Civil Administration informed them of their intention to relocate them to an already existing village near Jericho, which, according to them, is home to Palestinians from across the West Bank.

“We oppose moving there. If we cannot return to the Negev then at least we should be permitted to stay in the place where we have been living for decades. The place earmarked for us is already occupied by people. The Civil Administration told us that the residents are living there illegally, and that their homes (two stories high) will be demolished. We do not agree with other people being relocated because of us, and at any rate the proposed location doesn’t suit us. The Civil Administrations’ plan will put an end to our traditional way of life and will lead to internal disintegration,” one of the residents said.

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Full article here:

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/bedouin-face-displacement-in-west-bank-corridor-regardless-of-israel-s-constructions-plans.premium-1.482595

Settlements & land – B’Tselem report

The E1 plan and its implications for human rights in the West Bank

December 2012

This past weekend, the media reported that Israel has decided to advance the planning of thousands of apartments in the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, as part of the E-1 plan, in the area connecting the settlement to Jerusalem. According to media accounts, this decision was reached following the UN General Assembly’s recognition of Palestine as a state with UN observer status.

The implementation of construction plans in E1 will create an urban bloc between Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem, exacerbate the isolation of East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and will divide the West Bank into two separate areas, north and south.

The establishment of settlements in occupied territory runs counter to international humanitarian law, which prohibits the transfer of people from the occupying state into the occupied area. It also prohibits any permanent changes in the occupied territory, with the exception of changes mandated by military needs or in order to benefit the local population. In addition, the establishment of Israeli settlements leads to numerous violations of Palestinians’ human rights. The plan to expel Bedouin communities who reside in these areas is a further breach of international humanitarian law, which prohibits the forcible transfer of “protected persons,” such as these communities, unless done for their own safety or for an urgent military need. Even then, it is permissible only on a temporary basis.

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Full report here:

http://www.btselem.org/settlements/20121202_e1_human_rights_ramifications

By demolishing homes, Israel is demolishing hope- Haaretz

While the world’s attention is turned to Gaza, the UN and Jerusalem-area settlements, stealthier military maneuvers in the West Bank are pushing Palestinians off their land. If the recent joint U.S.-Israel military exercises actually took place in the Jordan Valley, then Washington is complicit in torpedoing the two-state solution.

Opinion piece by Khaled Diab

December 2012

“[...]

Behind the idyllic beauty of the scene, there lurked an ugly reality. First, there was the community’s obvious poverty: Living in makeshift tents, with no electricity and with water at a premium because it has to be trucked in, not to mention the children who have to walk about 10km each way to the nearest road so that they can go to school, which eats at least a couple of additional hours out of their day, and means they set out at sunrise and often return just before sunset.

But all this pales into insignificance when compared with the imminent threat facing the community – mostly made up of a clan called Turcoman – of being pushed off the land they have lived on and worked since they were displaced during the 1948 war from the coastal areas of what is today northern Israel. Wadi al-Maleh is home to several such threatened communities, some Bedouin and others sedentary farmers, each numbering around 50-100 people.

The Bedouin I met there – whom I had come to train in ways of better communicating their plight – told me that they had received demolition and eviction orders from Israel’s Civil Administration and that a number of tents had been torn down by the army to show that it meant business. One said that they had even been threatened with the confiscation of their economic mainstay, goats, if they did not up sticks. “Where are we going to go and how are we going to survive without our goats?” the community’s matron figure asked in distress.

The ostensible reason for this community’s planned displacement is because the Bedouin live in what Israel has declared to be a closed military zone, a designation which applies to about a fifth of the total surface area of the West Bank, affecting some 5,000 residents. The locals reported that the Israeli and American militaries had recently taken part in joint manoeuvres on the other side of a nearby mountain.

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Full article here:

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/by-demolishing-homes-israel-is-demolishing-hope.premium-1.482058?fb_action_ids=10151287339884785&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

WAFA reports on EU mission visit

November 2012

“A group of European Union heads of mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah visited Monday the West Bank community of Khan-Al-Ahmar, located in Area C, which is under full Israeli rule, according to an EU press release.

The diplomats had the opportunity to gain a first-hand impression of the current situation in the area, visit the Bedouin village of Khan-Al-Ahmar and the school serving some 90 children of the community.

The group met representatives of the Jahalin Bedouin community and was briefed on recent developments with regards to the community’s school, the latest legal proceedings and Israeli plans for potential displacement of the population, said the press release.

EU foreign ministers at the May 14 Council adopted strong conclusions on the importance of maintaining the viability of the two-state solution.

The worsening living conditions of the Palestinian population in Area C as well as plans of forced transfer of the Bedouin communities, in particular from the wider E1 area threaten to make a two-state solution impossible, concluded the foreign ministers.”

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Original here: http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=20990