Activists protest planned West Bank demolition of Bedouin village

Israeli policemen try to detain Palestinians in the Bedouin village of al-Khan al-Ahmar near Jericho in the occupied West Bank. (Reuters)

Israeli police scuffled with activists protesting the planned demolition of a Bedouin hamlet in the West Bank on Wednesday amid international opposition to the razing of the site.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said 11 people were arrested in the “disturbance” including several for throwing stones at officers in Khan al-Ahmar. He said three officers were injured, including one evacuated to a hospital for treatment.

Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian legislator, said four protesters were injured.

“This is a vicious, barbaric attack on peaceful demonstrators and they are trying to demolish Khan Al-Ahmar,” he said.

Israel says the structures that make up the Khan al-Ahmar encampment of corrugated shacks and tents were illegally built and pose a threat to residents because of their proximity to a highway.

Police could be seen dragging a handcuffed woman and pushing a Bedouin man. A construction vehicle flattened earth near the site.

The Bedouin village outside the Kfar Adumim settlement, is set to be demolished at an unknown date after Israel's Supreme Court approved the move in May.

Residents and activists voiced concern on Wednesday that Israel is set to raze the Bedouin village in a strategic part of the occupied West Bank ignoring international calls for a reprieve.

Activists said the Israeli military issued a warrant to the 173 residents of Khan al-Ahmar on Tuesday authorizing it to seize access roads to the village.

Heavy equipment, including at least one bulldozer, was seen around the village on Wednesday, leading to speculation a road was being prepared to facilitate its evacuation and demolition.

“Today they are proceeding with infrastructure work to facilitate the demolition and forcible transfer of residents,” Amit Gilutz, spokesperson for Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, told AFP.

Israeli authorities say the village and its school were built illegally and in May, the supreme court rejected a final appeal against its demolition.

But activists say the villagers had little alternative but to build without Israeli construction permits as the documents are near impossible for Palestinians to obtain for that part of the occupied West Bank.

Israel authorities say they have offered villagers a relocation site. They did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Britain’s minister of state for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, visited the village in May and called on the Israeli government to show restraint.

He warned that any forced relocation “could constitute forcible transfer of people as far as the United Nations is concerned.”

Forcible transfer is considered a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Khan al-Ahmar is located east of Jerusalem near several Israeli settlements along a road leading to the Dead Sea.

Activists are concerned that continued Israeli settlement construction in the area could effectively divide the West Bank in two.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:51 - GMT 06:51
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