Thousands of Palestinians are expected to reach Khan al-Ahmar on Monday to save the Bedouin village, which houses a mere population of 180 people of the Jahalin tribe, from being demolished by Israeli authority.
Last week, Israel Civil Administration ordered the inhabitants of Khan al-Ahmar either to evacuate their village voluntarily or to face demolition and forced displacement by the occupying state. This move by Israel is considered to have an agenda of cutting East Jerusalem from West Bank and expanding Israel’s illegal settlements, a move which saw condemnation from the international community as well as the Palestinian leadership with President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas condemning the action during his speech at the 73rd UNGA session.
Palestinian officials and activists say the mobilization is to stop Israeli forces from demolishing the village after the Monday deadline passes. Palestinians will be joined by foreign diplomats, mostly from European Union member states who have been called to witness the event at the village.
“People are going tonight. I think they [Israeli soldiers] will move in,” a Palestinian official told The National.
On Friday, Israeli forces declared Khan al-Ahmar a closed military zonepreventing Palestinians, international activists, and journalists from exiting or entering the village.
“Everything will be closed. All the institutions. All the commercial stores. So people can go there and protect the community there,” Lama Nazeh, a lawyer said to The National, who plans to travel to the village Monday.
The Palestinian Authority has made the survival of the village a top priority and will hold its weekly meeting in the village on Monday. Earlier this month, the Palestinians had filed a petition to the International Criminal Court against Israel’s order of demolition of the village.
Israeli authority maintains that the Bedouin village is illegal as they do not have a permit to build houses in the area which the Palestinians argue as impossible as Israel rarely gives permits to Palestinians to build houses. The residents of Khan al-Ahmar have been in this state of precarity since 2009 as they have been continuously fighting demolition orders.
“The demolition is a war crime,” said Nazeh. “It’s unfair on the civilians and the confiscation of the land for the interests of the settlements is illegal in international law.”
She also maintained that Palestinians will stay in the village as long as it takes to stop the Israeli aggression on the village.
There will be a general strike in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza on Monday which will also highlight the discriminatory National Law passed by Israel that declares only Jews have the right to self-determination in what is modern-day Israel, but that many Palestinians view as their historic land.