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Palestinians build camp to protect Bedouin village from demolition

Khan al-Ahmar is located east of Jerusalem near several illegal Israeli settlements. [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 September, 2018

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Amnesty International has deplored Israel's demolition of Khan al-Ahmar, saying the illegitimate move constitutes a 'war crime'.

Palestinian activists have set up five shipping containers near the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank to protect it from being demolished by Israel.

Israel's Supreme Court last week rejected petitions against the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar and announced it will go ahead, leaving over 170 Bedouin Palestinians, including 92 children displaced.

Activist Abdallah Abu Rahmeh said on Tuesday that setting up the white shipping containers - one with a Palestinian flag - is a message to Israel that "it's our right to build on our land".

The village, which sprawls in the dust at the edge of a highway leading to the Dead Sea and is close to several major Israeli settlements, is being demolished on grounds of being built without a permit.

Activists say the villagers had little alternative but to construct the camp without Israeli construction permits, which are almost never issued to Palestinians in occupied territories.

In addition to them rarely being issued, applying for building permits comes with various taxes and fees that amount to tens of thousands of dollars - an unaffordable move for many Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, where 27 percent live under the poverty line.

Khan al-Ahmar has focused attention on what critics say is the continued displacement of Palestinians by Israel.

Critics of the demolition say its removal is meant to make room for the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.

The Palestinian government said the demolition plans amounted to "ethnic cleansing".

Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK on Monday called on Israel not to raze the Bedouin village.

"We therefore join (EU) High Representative/Vice-President (Federica) Mogherini in reiterating our call to the Israeli government not to go ahead with its plan to demolish the village - including its school - and displace its residents," the five EU powers said in a statement.

"The consequences a demolition and displacement would have on the residents of this community, including their children, as well as on the prospects of the two-state solution would be very serious."

Amnesty International has deplored Israel's demolition of Khan al-Ahmar, saying the illegitimate move constitutes a "war crime".

The international community considers all Israeli settlements in the occupied territories to be illegal and a major obstacle to negotiating a peace deal.

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