Khan al-Ahmar demolition could be imminent, activists fear

Palestinian and Israeli activists who have been camping out in the village, which Israel says it will demolish, say they will resist nonviolently.

Israeli soldiers seen guarding the area designated for Khan al-Ahmar’s evacuees, East Jerusalem, October 13, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Israeli soldiers seen guarding the area designated for Khan al-Ahmar’s evacuees, East Jerusalem, October 13, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The residents of Khan al-Ahmar are preparing for the imminent demolition of their village, which activists and residents fear could take place as early as Monday morning.

Saturday night saw a record number of people staying the night at Khan al-Ahmar’s protest tent, with around 300 Palestinians and 30 Israeli and international activists sleeping in the schoolyard tent encampment.

The activists woke at 6:30 a.m. Sunday to find over 15 police vehicles parked at the entrance to the village. Like a similar  last week, activists and residents speculated that the police officers were there to gauge their response.

Israeli and Palestinian activists — who have been consistently sleeping in the village since the High Court of Justice ruled greenlighted the demolition of the village — say they will resist nonviolently and try to delay Khan al-Ahmar’s demolition for as long as possible.

Dana Mandler, an activist with the diaspora Jewish anti-occupation group All That’s Left, who slept in the village on Saturday night, said, “as an Israeli and American, it is clear to me that the best way for me to be in solidarity with Khan al-Ahmar is to be physically present in the village along with other activists.”

Israeli police vehicles park on the main road outside Khan al-Ahmar in the early hours of October 14, 2018. Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Israeli police vehicles park on the main road outside Khan al-Ahmar in the early hours of October 14, 2018. Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

“When we saw the police cars, everyone was ready to show them that we are here to nonviolently resist,” Mendler added. “It sends a powerful message when Israelis and Palestinians are together every night, speaking about a joint future, while preparing the school for the students in the morning.”

On Sunday morning, around 150 students arrived at Khan al-Ahmar’s school to begin their lessons. While they went to class, most of the activists left the village, under the assumption that the demolition would not take place during school hours.

Many of the activists were expected to return later Sunday for another night of preparations. Eid Jahalin, a resident and spokesperson for the village, said he hadn’t slept for many days. “It’s hard to know when they will come, they are playing with us in order to wear down the residents here.”

Last Wednesday, police commanders toured the area, bolstering residents’ and activists’ fears that the evacuation would take place early this week. Over the weekend, nearly 100 members of the Parents Circle-Families Forum, a grassroots organization of Palestinian and Israeli families who have lost family members due to the conflict, came to show their support the village.

Palestinian schoolchildren begin their day at the Khan al-Ahmar eco-school, October 14, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Palestinian schoolchildren begin their day at the Khan al-Ahmar eco-school, October 14, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Over the past week, authorities have sped up work on a site the Israeli army built for Khan al-Ahmar’s evacuees next to a waste site in East Jerusalem. Every family will be given a small plot, each with its own water container, since the area is still lacking connections to electricity, sewage, or running water.

The area is being guarded by soldiers and police officers at all hours of the day with soldiers stationed there preventing journalists from touring the plots. According to the Israeli High Court, the residents of Khan al-Ahmar will not be forced to live in the designated area. The residents have roundly rejected the proposal, and say they will refuse to move to an alternative location.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

Editor’s note:
This article has been revised and certain speculative details about what the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar could look like have been removed.