Palestinians vow to foil Israeli plan to demolish strategic Al-Khan Al-Ahmar village

Palestinians vow to foil Israeli plan to demolish strategic Al-Khan Al-Ahmar village
A Palestinian protests in the Bedouin village of Al-Khan Al-Ahmar, which Israel plans to demolish, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank January 23, 2023. (Reuters)
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Updated 23 January 2023

Palestinians vow to foil Israeli plan to demolish strategic Al-Khan Al-Ahmar village

Palestinians vow to foil Israeli plan to demolish strategic Al-Khan Al-Ahmar village
  • West Bank checkpoint killing: Soldier’s guilt exposed, victim’s family demand justice

RAMALLAH: The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called on the US and the EU to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop the demolition of Al-Khan Al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem, and the forced displacement of its residents.

Al-Khan Al-Ahmar has provoked an international crisis as the small village is strategically significant, connecting the north of the West Bank with the south.

It is one of the only remaining Palestinian areas in the E1 area — a name for a settlement project that aims to link Jerusalem with several other Israeli settlements. 

The ministry’s appeal came as dozens of Palestinians launched protests on Monday to defend the strategic village.

Israeli National Security Minster Itamar Ben-Gvir presented a document during a Cabinet meeting on Jan. 22, listing a series of buildings put up by Arabs in the West Bank in the past months.

The minister called for their demolition in six areas in the north and the center of the West Bank, as well as the nature reserve areas east of Bethlehem and Al-Khan Al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem.

Netanyahu said during the Cabinet session: “We are applying the law in a balanced way. Today, we destroyed only three Arab homes in Bethlehem and Nablus.”

The Israeli Supreme Court issued a final decision in September 2018 to evacuate and demolish Al-Khan Al-Ahmar, rejecting the petition of the village’s residents against their eviction and displacement and the destruction of the community, which is mainly made up of tents and tin dwellings.

Knesset members from the Likud party, meanwhile, organized a tour on the outskirts of Al-Khan Al-Ahmar on Monday in a move aimed at pressuring the Netanyahu government to demolish the community and displace its residents, especially after Ben-Gvir’s demands for its demolition.

Ben-Gvir presented a document containing photographs of Palestinian buildings east of Bethlehem, Nablus, Qalqilya and Ramallah and pledged to work on demolishing these buildings during his tenure.

Netanyahu and other extremist Israeli ministers have effectively waged war against Palestinian construction in the C areas, which comprise 60 percent of the West Bank.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the campaign of incitement by the ministers, members of Knesset, and extremist settlers to demolish the village of Al-Khan Al-Ahmar, denouncing their calls to storm it and attack its residents and those in solidarity with them.

The ministry said that Israel aims to implement massive settlement projects in the area and strongly rejected the attempt of some political and media parties in Israel to compare the random settlement outpost in Jurish, south of Nablus, with the village of Al-Khan Al-Ahmar.

It affirmed that Al-Khan Al-Ahmar is part of Palestine, while settlement in all its forms, including random outposts, is illegal under international law.

Majed Al-Hillew, a Fatah Revolutionary Council member, said that a meeting would be held on Tuesday for the council to discuss ways to activate popular resistance in Palestine in general, and in Al-Khan Al-Ahmar in particular, to confront the measures of the new Israeli government.

Mustafa Al-Barghouti, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative Movement, told Arab News that Al-Khan Al-Ahmar, Masafer Yatta and Sheikh Jarrah are the first lines of defense for the Palestinian presence in the face of the annexation of the West Bank, which the Netanyahu government is trying to implement.

Separately, the Israeli army admitted after an investigation that the 46-year-old Palestinian who was killed on Jan. 15 did not pose a threat to the soldiers, as was previously claimed. 

Ahmed Kahla from Ramon, east of Ramallah, near the town of Silwad, was shot in the neck from close range.

The army investigation found that “the incident should not have ended in death.”

The Israeli army had earlier claimed that Kahla had a knife in his hand when he got out of his car and was headed toward the soldiers before they shot him.

The army’s investigation concluded that Kahla did not intend to carry out a stabbing attack.

The victim’s 20-year-old son Qusai, who was with him on the day he was killed, confirmed that he and his father were on their way to work in the morning.

Their car was stopped at an Israeli checkpoint and a soldier fired a stun grenade that hit the roof of the vehicle.

When the father opened the window and asked the soldier why he fired the stun grenade at his car, an officer ran toward him, used pepper spray on him, and took him out of the vehicle before the soldier shot him dead.

The army’s investigation showed that the pepper spray the officer used on Kahla had been brought from his home and had not been administered by the Israeli military.

Zayed Kahla, 45, the victim’s younger brother, commented to Arab News on the Israeli military investigation into the death.

“We were certain that they killed him for no reason. So we will take all measures to prosecute them and force them to pay financial compensation,” he said, adding that the family has decided to go to the Israeli courts to sue the army and will also go to the International Criminal Court.

“We realize that their trial will not bring our brother Ahmed back to life, but we want them to pay the price for their crime.

“We want to deter them from killing more Palestinians in cold blood and without reason so that they know that Palestinian blood is precious and sacred,” he told Arab News.

A videotape from another person stopped at the checkpoint showed that a verbal altercation occurred between Kahla and the soldiers before one of them shot Kahla, who posed no danger to them, at short range.

The incident is not the first of its kind, Palestinians say.

Israeli army investigations concluded that, over the last two months, soldiers have killed several Palestinians who posed no threat to their lives.

An Israeli officer killed Ammar Muflih on the main Hiwara Street, south of Nablus, on Dec. 2, at point-blank range.

An Israeli soldier also killed Palestinian girl Jana Zakarneh on Dec. 12 during an army incursion into Jenin.

In a separate incident, over 300 extremists stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque on Monday, chanting racist slogans and performing public prayers.

Israeli Knesset member Yitzhak Crozier of the far-right Jewish Power party, headed by Ben-Gvir, called on the settlers to continuously storm Al-Aqsa Mosque.