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People Of Khan Al-Ahmars Existence Are Being Erased. OpEd

Society & Culture  (tags: Khan al-Ahmar, racism, colonialism, zionism, violence, caterpillar, Anne Frank, Susiya, E1, Area C, occupied Palestine, West Bank, war crimes, Fourth Geneva Convention, War on Want, media, news, world )

- 74 days ago -
This week, the dreaded sounds of Israeli military soldiers haunted a small village near East Jerusalem called Khan Al-Ahmar. They warned the 173 Palestinians, including 92 children, that they must flee as their homes would soon be destroyed


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fly b (26)
Sunday July 8, 2018, 7:58 pm
When I read as a young child the story of Anne Frank, the little girl whose Jewish family fled their home to escape Nazi persecution and hid in Amsterdam through most of World War II, it frightened me.

Anne wrote about the frightening sounds of the Nazi police sirens and her family’s despair and hopes as heavily-armed German occupation soldiers pounded on doors, threatening those who defended and hid the fleeing Jews with expulsion or worse. Having brutal soldiers strut through your village and home must have been terrifying.

Although Anne’s tragedy played out nearly 80 years ago, you don’t have to look far to find the same terrifying bullying by a military occupation today. Anne’s spirit lives on in the hills, the valleys and the attics of homes in Palestine, where heavily-armed Israeli soldiers pursue, arrest, detain and kill Palestinian civilians.

This week, the dreaded sounds of Israeli military soldiers haunted a small village near East Jerusalem called Khan Al-Ahmar. They warned the 173 Palestinians, including 92 children, that they must flee as their homes would soon be destroyed. More than a dozen protesters have been arrested following clashes with Israeli police that broke out during demonstrations as bulldozers arrived on site.

For the residents of Khan Al-Ahmar, though, persecution by Israel’s military is not new. All of its residents are descendants of Bedouins who lived in a small area of the Negev desert called Tal Arad following Israel’s 1948 conquest. Israel prohibited the Bedouins from roaming the Negev and forced them to settle. But, in 1951, Israel expelled all of them, forcing them to flee at gunpoint to the protection of Jordanian rule in the West Bank. There, they were welcomed by the residents of Khan Al-Ahmar, an area with ties to the “Good Samaritan” of the Christian Bible.

The former Bedouins leased new lands from Palestinians and built new homes, businesses and established schools with the help of Jordan and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

The residents of Khan Al-Ahmar are now facing expulsion again. On May 24, three members of Israel’s racist, anti-Arab Supreme Court — Justices Noam Sohlberg, Anat Baron and Yael Willner — ruled that Israel may demolish all the homes in the village and forcibly transfer the residents, again.

The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem calls the imminent expulsion a “war crime.” The ruling is a part of a larger campaign of bullying, intimidation and human rights abuses by Israel’s government to cleanse areas of non-Jews to make room for the creation of Jewish-only settlements.

Israel has 65 laws that allow for de-facto discrimination against non-Jews, and has been intentionally negligent in responding to overt racism against non-Jews in major cities, including recently in Afula, where Jews demanded that home sales to Arabs be prohibited because Jews there asserted that they might engage in violence against them.

This will not be the first time heavily-armed Israeli soldiers have bullied and threatened their way into Palestinian areas to force non-Jews to flee to make room for new, illegal Jewish-only settlements. After occupying East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel razed the Moroccan Quarter, expelling hundreds of Muslim families, for the sole purpose of expanding the Wailing Wall into the huge plaza it is today.

The land that non-Jews occupy at Khan Al-Ahmar will be used to build a new Jewish-only settlement as a part of an Israeli “ring of exclusion,” in which Israel has created a chain of Jewish-only settlements surrounding East Jerusalem, cutting it off from the rest of the occupied West Bank. This ring includes many Jewish-only settlements like Gilo, Kfar Adumim, Alon and Nofei Prat.

B’Tselem, whose volunteer members have been persecuted, bullied, arrested, detained and threatened for speaking out against the threats to non-Jews, warned this week: “Israeli police and Civil Administration personnel arrived at Khan Al-Ahmar, the Palestinian community Israel announced it plans to transfer. The troops walked through Khan Al-Ahmar, among the residents’ homes, in what appeared to be preparations for the planned demolition of the community. Residents reported that a police officer told them they would be forcibly removed and that they would be better off if they left ‘voluntarily’.”

The Israelis will destroy every home, every business, every farm, every mosque and every school at Khan Al-Ahmar in order to complete this “ring of exclusion.” They will build 92 new homes for Jewish settlers.

Today the Palestinians of Khan Al-Ahmar are living in a state of fear. Some people say that ethnic cleansing is not the same as murder, arguing that all Israel is doing is stealing their homes, not killing them, because those homes and land are now owned by the government of Israel, not the residents who have lived there since 1951.

Anne Frank’s story is not about life in the death camps or about the atrocities committed by the Nazis at their concentration camps, where 6 million Jews and millions of non-Jews were murdered. Her story is the substance of life during the Holocaust, about the fear and the fright that human beings experience under the oppression of a brutal military regime that hunts them down, expels them, forces them to flee their homes, and destroys all their property.

For the people of Khan Al-Ahmar, the oppression they are experiencing echoes that. Stealing a person’s land, home and possessions, and forcing them to flee in the face of military threats, is in fact a form of death.

I think if Anne were alive today, she would be standing with the civilians of Khan Al-Ahmar, defending their rights against this atrocity. Their lives are being killed. Their existence is being erased.

fly b (26)
Sunday July 8, 2018, 8:02 pm
Khan al-Ahmar resists Israeli bulldozers and brutality.
6 July 2018

Israel’s high court temporarily halted the demolition of the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar on 5 July, in the face of fierce protests from residents and solidarity activists, and mounting international criticism.

Earlier this week, Israel began what may be the final and complete destruction of the occupied West Bank village – an act that would be a war crime.

Israeli military forces arrived in the village on Sunday to begin preparations for demolition.

Some of Khan al-Ahmar’s nearly 200 residents tried to resist Israeli encroachment on their land, but Israeli forces beat and arrested them.

Dozens of villagers were injured, and four were hospitalized, Palestinian medical sources told media on Wednesday.

This video shows Israeli forces reacting with extreme violence against Palestinian women and men attempting to defend their homes from the bulldozers, as terrified children look on. One man can be seen with blood on his head:

The court has given the Israeli government until 11 July to respond to the community’s contention that they have been denied building permits, but Palestinians are still wary of the temporary injunction given that the same court has previously blessed their forced removal.

“The mood is better, people are less stressed, but we are still worried,” Mahmoud Abu Dahouk, 51, told Reuters. Dahouk was born in the village.

Nearby demolitions

While eyes were on Khan al-Ahmar, Israel demolished a dozen structures in the Palestinian community of Abu Nuwwar on Wednesday. As a result, 62 Palestinians, half of them children, were left homeless, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

“The children of Abu Nuwwar should not be experiencing the trauma of displacement that preceding generations of Palestine refugees have already experienced,” UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, stated.

Earlier this year, Israeli occupation forces demolished two buildings in Abu Nuwwar. The destruction left more than 25 children in the third and fourth grades without a place to learn.

The school was built with funding from the European Union and the Palestinian Authority in September, but the EU has done anything to hold Israel accountable for the destruction of the classrooms.

This is in keeping with the EU’s inaction over the tens of millions of dollars of projects it has funded that Israel has destroyed in recent years.

On Thursday, Israeli forces demolished the home of a Palestinian family in the community of Susiya in the South Hebron Hills.

Soldiers also beat members of the family of eight when they tried to resist the demolition, which came without warning.

European complicity

On Tuesday, the Israeli military declared Khan al-Ahmar a closed military zone, blocking roads inside and leading to the village.

Israeli forces stopped European diplomats from entering the village as well, preventing them from visiting the area’s school.

The school was built in 2009 out of rubber tires and mud in an attempt to evade Israel’s restriction on Palestinians using cement for construction, and it too will be destroyed along with the village.

That will leave 160 children from five villages with no school.

The European Union is rarely vocal about Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. It has for example failed to condemn Israel’s recent massacres of unarmed civilians in Gaza.

But the EU has been critical of the planned destruction of Khan al-Ahmar, not so much out of concern for its residents, but because Israel plans to build settlements on the land.

The EU sees this as another blow to the already moribund two-state solution.

Mark Pocan, a member of the US House of Representatives, also called on Israel not to destroy Khan al-Ahmar. Pocan tweeted out a letter objecting to the plan that he and 10 colleagues sent to the US secretary of state last October.

In December, 10 US senators sent a similar letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Khan al-Ahmar, Abu Nuwwar and Susiya are among a number communities Israel is threatening with demolition and forcible transfer in Area C.

Israel refuses to permit virtually any Palestinian construction in Area C, which constitutes 60 percent of the occupied West Bank under the terms of the Oslo accords signed in the early 1990s. This forces residents to build without permits and live in constant fear of demolition.

Many Israeli leaders now urge the outright annexation of Area C.

Khan al-Ahmar and Abu Nuwwar are in an area east of Jerusalem called E1, where Israel plans to expand its mega-settlements of Maaleh Adumim and Kfar Adumim and connect them to Jerusalem.

According to the UN, more than 8,000 Palestinians face forcible transfer by Israel in the central West Bank, 3,500 of them in the E1 area.

Expanding settlements into E1 would isolate the northern and southern parts of the West Bank from each other, ruling out the possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state.

Despite these concerns, the EU has taken no action to deter Israel from proceeding with the destruction of Khan al-Ahmar and other communities.

Corporate involvement

Human rights defenders are highlighting the complicity of corporations that sell the equipment Israel is using to forcibly transfer Palestinians.

“Companies with headquarters in the UK are directly supporting the destruction of Palestinian homes and schools in Khan al-Ahmar, Abu Nuwwar and countless other villages,” Ryvka Barnard of the campaign group War on Want stated.

“Companies like CAT [Caterpillar] and JCB profit from illegal activity – and in this case, war crimes.”

“Going ahead with the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar is not only profoundly cruel; it would also amount to forcible transfer, which is a war crime,” Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa stated.

“Israel must be held to account for such grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which is a standard it has set for itself and demanded of other nations.”

On Thursday, UN officials also called for an end to Israel’s West Bank demolitions and respect for international law.

Israel’s violence this week “makes life in these communities virtually untenable,” Scott Anderson, of the UN humanitarian monitoring group OCHA, stated.

“These pastoral communities are mostly Palestine refugees – originally displaced from their tribal lands in the Negev. They should not be forced to experience a second displacement against their will.”
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