Posted on 26th July 2012, by & filed under Area C, Bedouins, Demolitions, displacement, european union, Greater Jerusalem, Home Demolitions, Itay Epshtain.


*Update May 10th Below

Palestinian residential structures in Area C of the the West Bank, east of Jerusalem, are under looming threat of immediate demolition. Structures include EU-funded residential structures provided in response to previous demolitions in the area. The Palestinian-Bedouin communities living in the hills to the east of Jerusalem are at an exceedingly growing risk of forced ethnic displacement. The communities have been informed by the Israeli authorities that they have no option but to leave the area, as part of a larger plan to forcibly tranfer, in defiance of international law, Bedouin communities living in Area C (Jerusalem periphery, Jordan Valley, and south Hebron Hills), where Israel retains control over security as well as planning and zoning.

 

The Israeli Civil Administration (ICA)  issued eight eviction orders to the Kurshan compound of the Khan al-Ahmar Arab al-Jahalin Bedouin community, in the afternoon of Sunday May 6thThe orders affect the eight families of the community, who have been part of a recent shelter rehabilitation project, designed to replace sub-standard shelter with eight residential structures. The Kurshan families have used this location seasonally since the 1960s, and have been permanent in their current location since 1992. The ICA officers informed those present in the community that “the community had built illegally, and that Area C was not for Palestinians.” Furthermore, ICA informed the Az-Zayyem Arab al-Jahalin Bedouin community on May 3rd, that a demolition will take place in their community, effective immediately, following the lift of an injunction order protecting the structures. These are also structures funded by the international community, following demolitions in November 2011. 

 

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Az-Zayyem demolitions, November 2011

 

Settlers from Regavim, a militant organization based in the nearby settlement of Kfar Adumim, harassed the Khan al-Ahmar Kurshan residents earlier today. They photographed all structures in the community. At the time, ICAHD Co-Director Itay Epshtain, and Field-Coordinator Salim Shawamreh were providing protective presence in the community, and were told by settlers, that they were gathering information on Bedouin structures with the intent of approaching the ICA to urge them to demolish community homes.

 

An appeal filed by the lawyer for the community against the eviction orders was rejected this afternoon, May 8th, and the ICA is most likely to demolish the eight family homes as early as tomorrow afternoon. According to recognized legal opinions the current planning and permit regime, and other Israeli practices and policies in Area C, violate International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law on several counts (more information available here). It is the duty of third states to ensure respect of international law. The EU Heads of Mission Report on Area C (July 2011) strongly recommended that EU member states promote economic development in Area C, and increase visibility and accountability for the delivery of aid and development architecture in Area C.

 

ICAHD has called the EU to immediately exert diplomatic pressure on Israel, and call it to account for the threatened demolitions in Khan al-Ahmar as well as in Az-Zayyem. The EU should seek assurance from Israel that the ICA will not demolish these, and other Palestinian structures in Area C. ICAHD will continue to provide protective presence in the community, along with partner organization. 

 

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For more information on the growing risk of displacement faced by Arab al-Jahalin Bedouin, please refer to t
he ICAHD publication
Nowhere Left to Go.

For a normative and political analysis of Israel’s displacement policy and practice in the Occupied West Bank, please find the ICAHD publication ‘Demolishing Homes, Demolishing Peace’.

 

*Update, May 10th: 

 

After lobbying by ICAHD and others in the UK and Europe, the British Government stated that senior British ministers were in discussion with British officials in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as well as with EU officials who were keeping fully updated on the situation. The government position was stated as follows: “The UK continues to encourage the Israeli Government to carry through on this commitment, to comply fully with their obligations under international law, and to ensure that any decision reached on the movement of Bedouin communities should be made with their full consent and not result in a forcible transfer.” EU Foreign Ministers are gathering in Brussels for a meeting on 14 May. They will discuss issues including the demolition of Palestinian homes, forced displacement and the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in Area C of the West Bank which threaten Palestinian economic development. 

 

The legal aid provider, JLAC, managed to obtain an injunction order for Khan al-Ahmar Kurshan community. This temporary injunction prevents the demolition of homes of the eight families that received eviction notices on Sunday 6 May. It is worth mentioning that the injunction does not have an expiration date. However, the Israeli Civil Administration has seven days to provide its response to the court regarding this decision. This response will guide any further decisions of the court.