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Khan al-Ahmar

The internationally funded and eco-friendly school building for the Khan al-Ahmar community in the West Bank, with Israeli Highway 1 in the background.

Khan al-Ahmar is a Palestinian village in the Jerusalem Governorate of the West Bank. In 2018, there were 173 Bedouin. including 92 children, living there in tents and huts, upwards of 100 in 2010, with its local school serving the needs of 150 children in the area. Khan al-Ahmar is located between the Israeli settlements of Ma'ale Adumim and Kfar Adumim. In May 2018, the Israeli High Court of Justice determined that its residents could be evicted.

 

 

In 1945 the Arabs of Khan el Ahmar had 16,380 dunams of land, according to an official land and population survey. Of this, 538 dunams were used for cereals, while 15,842 dunams were classified non-cultivable land.

Many of the families living in Khan al-Ahmar, from the Bedouin Jahalin tribe, were expelled from the Negev in 1952 by the Israeli army. They moved the following year to the West Bank, under Jordanian administration,[9] and settled in Khan al-Ahmar which, in the late 1970s, found itself incorporated into lands that were assigned to a new Israeli settlement, which became the present-day Maale Adumim. The village is one of the only remaining Palestinian areas within the E1 zone, strategically significant because it connects the north and south of the West Bank.

The village was slated to be demolished by Israel in February 2010 due to allegations of illegal building. The Israeli state announced plans in September 2012 to relocate the villagers to the an-Nuway'imah area in the Jordan Valley, north of Jericho. The people of Khan al-Ahmar have opposed this plan. Abu Khamiss, a spokesperson for Khan al-Ahmar residents, said in 2015 that the relocation site would be "like a prison for us".

In July 2009, Italian aid organization Vento Di Terra, (Wind of Earth) and other volunteers built a school in the village, using the radical tyre-mud earth method, to address the needs of the community and the difficulty for children to access other schools within the West Bank. A demolition order was served against the school by the Civil Administration one month after it opened, on the basis that it had been built too close to Highway 1, for which expansion plans have already been approved (although representatives of the State have stated demolition would not be carried out until the village relocation is completed).

Since 2009, residents of the nearby Israeli settlements of Kfar Adumim, Alon and Nofei Prat, assisted by the settler NGO Regavim, have filed petitions to the Israeli Supreme Court calling for the Israeli military to immediately carry out the standing demolition order against 257 Palestinian structures in the area, including the Khan al-Ahmar school. A lawyer representing the Bedouin community has also petitioned to overturn the demolition order against the school. UNRWA, which operates an education program in Palestine, has also campaigned to defend the Khan al-Ahmar school, arguing that demolishing the school would "effectively deny the children of the community their education and jeopardise their future". The court has so far rejected both sets of petitioners, leaving the village with standing demolition orders.

In 2015, Palestinian NGO Future for Palestine donated solar panels to provide the village with electricity. In July, the Civil Administration confiscated the solar panels, as well as one which had been in the village for several years.

In September 2017 Israeli military authorities in the West Bank notified the Khan al-Ahmar villagers that their only option would be to move to "Jahalin West", a site near the Abu Dis garbage dump which had been specially allocated for them to that end.  A lawyer who filed a petition against the relocation on behalf of the Jahlin tribe says that the land is claimed by Abu Dis residents, and that the area Israel would allocate to each prospective large Bedouin family and their herds there is no more than approximately 250 sq. metres.

On the 24 of May the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that, starting from June, the Israeli army can move the village to a different location. Justice Noam Sohlberg, himself a resident of an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, [21] wrote that the grounds for the decision, which rejected a villagers' petition for a stay in the order, was that the residents had unlawfully engaged in building both the school and housing, and that it was not within the court's remit to meddle in the execution of Israeli state laws. David Zonsheine, executive director of the Israeli Human Rights NGO, B'tselem, stated that Israel had failed to connect the township to water, power and sewerage services, and that the villagers had built without permits because, it is claimed, Israeli policy is such that is dissuades Palestinian villagers from even trying to obtain licenses to build, a claim also repeated by Human Rights Watch. The effect of the dismantlement and evictions will be, he added, to bisect the West Bank from north to south.

Minister of State for the Middle East at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Alistair Burt said that the proposed relocation of any people might be taken by the United Nations as an act constituting the forcible transfer of people. Some 300 public intellectuals, legal scholars, parliamentarians and artists the world over published an open letter stating that:" Forcible transfer – by direct physical force or by creating a coercive environment that makes residents leave their homes – is a war crime."

The village gets its name from what is traditionally identified as "The Red Inn" (Khan al-Ahmar in Arabic), which was built in the 13th century on the site of St Euthymius' monastery, after it was destroyed by the Mamluk sultan Baybars. The monastery had also included an inn, and developed on the remains of The Church of St. Euthymius, built in the 5th century to commemorate Jesus's New Testament story of the Good Samaritan.

Another inn, "The Good Samaritan Inn" (Khan al-Hatruri) is 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) east of the village. It is a 16th-century Ottoman-era building believed to have sheltered caravans of traders. Across the highway are archeological remains of a crusader fortress known as "The Red Fortress"