Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to postpone Saturday the demolition of Bedouin-Palestinian village Khan al-Ahmar despite controversy among government ministers.
“We will first exhaust negotiations and discuss the offers on the table,” said a source in Jerusalem. In response, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman slammed the decision and emphasized it was made “despite (his) strong objections.”
Borders Police forces, alongside police and Civil Administration personnel were updated on Saturday evening that the demolition, which was supposed to take place any day, has been halted until further notice.
The High Court of Justice rejected an appeal against the demolition of the West Bank village, ruling that its stay would expire in a week and the spartan encampment could then legally be torn down.
“There is real concern of disorderly conduct and violence occuring during the demolition, especially from non-residents. Social media posts have been calling to rally against the demolition, saying to even use violence if necessary,” wrote Justice Hanan Melcer in the decision.
“We can only hope the demolition is conducted peacefully, with no physical violence, so that the valuables in each home can be removed in an orderly fashion,” he added.
The decision to demolish the village and relocate its inhabitants was taken after a legal struggle that has been going on for years.
An alternative land was decided upon, located in the neighboring community of Ezriyya, on its current dump site.
The Bedouin tribe that lives in Khan al-Ahmar, the Jahalin, is originally from the Arad region. They settled on the territories between Ma'ale Adumim and Jericho in the 1950’s—when the land was still under Jordanian rule.
Today the community encampment includes tents and slum shacks, and an Italian-funded school. It houses 180 inhabitants.
Israel says the structures that make up the Khan al-Ahmar encampment pose a threat to residents because of their proximity to a highway.
But critics have dismissed this claim as a ploy to remove the village's residents to clear the way for new Jewish settlements.