BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The European Union (EU) Heads of Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah visited the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the central occupied West Bank on Tuesday, where they met with community leaders and humanitarian organizations that deliver aid to the community, which for years has been at risk of forcible transfer by Israel.
The EU missions released a statement on Tuesday highlighting the current situation in Khan al-Ahmar. Last month,
Israeli authorities delivered military demolition orders to the village's 40 homes and elementary school
-- which serves 170 Bedouin school children from the surrounding area.
The statement noted that Khan al-Ahmar is home to 140 Palestinian Bedouin refugees who have been living in the community since the 1950s after they were expelled from their original lands in the Negev in what is now southern Israel.
“A demolition of the school would severely impact negatively on Palestinian children's right to education,” the statement said of the impending demolition of the Khan al-Ahmar school, which has long been under threat of demolition by Israel for being built “illegally” in Area C -- the area of the West Bank under full Israeli civilian and security control.
“The EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah call upon Israel not to carry out demolitions in the said community. Displacing the community would be in contravention with Israel's obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law,” the statement concluded.
Khan al-Ahmar, like other Bedouin communities in the region
, is under threat of relocation by Israel for being located in the contentious “E1 corridor” set up by the Israeli government to link annexed East Jerusalem with the mega settlement of Maale Adumim.
Israeli authorities plan to build thousands of homes for Jewish-only settlements in E1, which would effectively divide the West Bank and make the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state -- as envisaged by the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict -- almost impossible.
Rights groups and Bedouin community members have sharply criticized Israel's relocation plans for the Bedouin residing near the illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, claiming that the removal would displace indigenous Palestinians for the sake of expanding Israeli settlements across the occupied West Bank in violation of international law.