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Israel planning to relocate Khan al-Ahmar residents to new area in West Bank

Israeli officials' latest proposal would move residents of West Bank village to an area that would allow them 'to maintain the same texture of life'
A Palestinian of the Jahalin tribe walks with a Palestinian flag in the village of Khan al-Ahmar in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, 29 November 2020 (AFP)

Israeli officials are planning to remove Palestinians from the village of Khan al-Ahmar and relocate them a few hundred metres away to a location between occupied Jerusalem and Jericho in the occupied West Bank, Yedioth Ahronoth has revealed.

Khan al-Ahmar is sited in the West Bank near Route 1, which connects East Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley, and stands near the illegal Israeli settlement of Kfar Adumim.

In September 2018, Israel's Supreme Court approved the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar, despite calls from European countries, human right organisations and activists for Israel to halt the process.

Israeli officials’ proposed plan is to relocate Khan al-Ahmar’s residents to an area that they claim will allow them “to maintain the same texture of life”, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Sunday. 

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In 2018, Israeli officials proposed a similar plan to relocate the 180 inhabitants of Khan al-Ahmar to an area 12km away, near the Palestinian village of Abu Dis, which the residents rejected. Under international pressure, Israel put its plans on hold.

The residents of Khan al-Ahmar are from the Jahalin tribe, a Bedouin group that was expelled from the Naqab desert - also referred to as the Negev - during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. The Jahalin then settled on the eastern slopes of Jerusalem.

The Khan al-Ahmar community comprises some 35 families, whose makeshift homes and schools, mostly made of corrugated metal and wood, have been demolished by the Israeli army several times in recent years.

The Jahalin tribe is currently studying the Israeli proposal, according to Yedioth Ahronoth, as the demolition of their village looms large, and could take place any time based on the court order.  

Israel intends to demolish Khan al-Ahmar as part of the so-called E1 plan, which involves building hundreds of units to link the settlements of Kfar Adumim and Maale Adumim with East Jerusalem in the Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank.

If fully implemented, critics say the E1 plan would effectively split the West Bank in half, isolate East Jerusalem from Palestinian communities in the West Bank and force Palestinians to make even lengthier detours to travel from one place to another, while illegal settlements would be able to expand.