Something extraordinary happened in Israel this week . . .

Villagers and activists facing arrest for protesting the attempted demolition of Bedouin Palestinian dwellings at al-Khan al-Ahmar, West Bank, Oct 15, 2018. (photo: Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
. . . The Bedouins of al-Khan al-Ahmar halted the bulldozers.

By David Shulman | The New York Review of Books | Oct 26, 2018

Already it can be said that a small group of unarmed, ordinary human beings, appalled by the injustice about to be inflicted upon innocents and prepared to face reckless violence without flinching, have achieved a moral victory that cannot be measured in purely instrumental terms.

Something extraordinary has happened this week at the Palestinian Bedouin village of al-Khan al-Ahmar, on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem and adjacent to the main road going south toward Jericho and the Dead Sea. First, there is the remarkable fact that the village still exists — after months of waiting, day by day, for the bulldozers of the Israeli army to arrive to demolish it. But even more astonishing is the fact that, for several days, over a hundred activists — Palestinians, Israelis, and a few internationals — faced the heavily armed soldiers and the riot police, not known for their gentle ways, and triumphed, at least for the moment. The imminent demolition of the entire site and the violent expulsion of its inhabitants have now been postponed for some weeks, according to the Israeli cabinet’s decision on October 21.

There is even a chance, however slight, that the Bedouins of al-Khan al-Ahmar will in the end be moved to a site only a few hundred yards from their present place, according to the plan that they themselves proposed, long ago, to the Israeli authorities, who rejected it at the time out of hand. Sometimes, it happens that a certain place, like this rocky hill, becomes a battleground between opposing value systems and opposing forces, each of which recognizes what is at stake. For the Israeli right, the Bedouins of al-Khan al-Ahmar are one of the last obstacles to a far-reaching annexationist program. They also have the incorrigible flaw of not being Jews in a Jewish state now run on exclusionary ethno-nationalist principles.

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Israeli Minister Planned Eviction of West Bank Bedouin 40 Years Ago

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel leading a tour in the West Bank. (photo: HaIhud HaLeumi / The National Union Party)

Now agriculture minister, then settler activist, Uri Ariel was already planning in the 1970’s the eviction of Bedouin living east of Jerusalem that is taking place now in Khan al-Ahmar.

By Amira Hass | Haaretz | Jul 12, 2018


“Since the area is used by the military and a large part of the industry there serves the defense establishment, the area must be closed to Bedouin settlement and evacuated.”
— Uri Ariel, writing in the 1970’s


Forty years ago Uri Ariel, now agriculture minister, was already planning the eviction of Bedouin living east of Jerusalem. This emerges from a document signed by him titled, “A proposal to plan the Ma’aleh Adumim region and establish the community settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim B.”

The document outlines a plan to turn some 100,000 to 120,000 dunams (25,000 to 30,000 acres) of Palestinian land into an area of Jewish settlement and develop it as a “Jewish corridor,” as he put it, from the coast to the Jordan River. In fact, a large part of the plan has been executed, except for the eviction of all the area’s Bedouin.

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Israeli High Court further postpones demolition of West Bank Bedouin village

Israeli policemen scuffle with Palestinian demonstrators in the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar on Jul 4, 2018. (photo: Flash90)

Top legal body rejects the state’s response to petition from Khan al-Ahmar residents, says it will hold a hearing on Aug 15.

By Jacob Magid | The Times of Israel | Jul 13, 2018


Opponents of the demolition also argue that it is part of an effort to enable the expansion of the nearby settlement of Kfar Adumim, and to create a region of contiguous Israeli control from Jerusalem almost to the Dead Sea, a move critics say will bisect the West Bank, and make a contiguous Palestinian state impossible.


The High Court of Justice agreed on Thursday to hold a hearing on a petition filed by residents of Khan al-Ahmar against the state’s decision to demolish the Bedouin village near the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim.

The top legal body ordered that a hearing on the matter be held by August 15, meaning the demotion of the hamlet — originally green-lighted by the court in May — will be further delayed until after the session takes place and a decision is handed down. . . .

With the eviction appearing just days away, attorneys representing Khan al-Ahmar submitted an urgent petition last Wednesday that claimed the Civil Administration — the Defense Ministry body in charge of construction permits in the West Bank — never offered any plans to legalize the village, and refused to review a plan submitted by the villagers. . . .

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As Israeli bulldozers circle, a tiny village takes center stage in Palestinian struggle

The Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar on Jul 5, 2018. (photo: Thomas Coex / AFP / Getty Images)

Without even a limited censure, the Trump administration is signaling a green light.

By Loveday Morris and Sufian Taha | The Washington Post | Jul 11, 2018


Most residents are members of the Jahalin tribe, which the Israeli military expelled from the Negev desert of southern Israel at the start of the 1950’s. The Jahalin Bedouins were relocated to the area of Kfar Adumim in the West Bank in 1952, only to be moved again to their current location when an Israeli settlement was built there.


Growing up herding sheep and goats in the hills east of Jerusalem, Eid Jahalin never expected to find himself one day lobbying in the halls of the U.S. Congress.

But that is how the 51-year-old spent last week, as the small cluster of shacks he calls his home village comes under threat of demolition by Israeli bulldozers.

The Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, inhabited by 173 people, may seem unassuming, with homes made of wood and tarpaulin and surrounded by animal pens. But its strategic location puts it at the heart of the decades-long conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

If Israel were to demolish the village and other surrounding Bedouin communities and build here as planned, Palestinian territory in the occupied West Bank would be split in two, with a portion of it isolated from any future capital in East Jerusalem.

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Palestine: The End of the Bedouins?

shulman-ayyub
Abu Rasmi Ayyub amid the ruins of his village, al-Hammeh, demolished by the Israeli army on September 27, 2016. (photo: Giy Hircefeld)

By David Shulman / The New York Review of Books
December 7, 2016


We are simple people. We want to graze our sheep, to feed our families, to educate our children. Only that. In the late 1980s, at the time of the Oslo agreements, there was hope, but in the end the disaster became even more terrible. They are doing whatever they can to drive us out. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the situation here should be frozen, and no more demolitions take place, but the soldiers pay no attention. When a soldier comes to tear down my house, where is the judge?  . . . My daughter was wounded in front of my eyes by an Israeli girl, a soldier. What am I supposed to feel? How am I supposed to live with the Israeli people, in what they claim is the only democracy in the Middle East?


One way to tell the story of the Middle East as a whole is to describe the endemic struggle between peripatetic nomads and settled peasant farmers — a struggle attested already in ancient Mesopotamian documents. For centuries, all the political regimes of the region have tried, with varying success, to get the Bedouin to come to rest on the land. But in Israel and in the occupied territories we see, alongside this familiar policy, persistent attempts to uproot Bedouin populations who have already settled on the land, sometimes generations ago, and who usually have clear claims to ownership of these sites.

Today, most of the Jordan Valley, undoubtedly one of the most ravishing landscapes on the planet, is situated in what is known as Area C of occupied Palestinian territory. This means that, with the exception of the ancient city of Jericho and its surroundings (which are in Area A, under Palestinian rule), the valley is under direct and exclusive Israeli military, legal, and political control, and also that large parts of it are taken up by Israeli settlements or by lands that have been reserved for future Israeli settlement. It also means that a Palestinian population of some 15,000 Bedouins who are settled in the valley is tacitly targeted for expulsion.

According to the Oslo accords, the division of the West Bank into three different zones was intended as a preliminary stage leading eventually to the end of the Israeli occupation and to achieving Palestinian statehood. The policy of the present Israeli government appears to be aimed at eventually annexing to Israel the whole of Area C, which constitutes over half the territory of the West Bank; this goal has been explicitly and repeatedly stated by the minister of education, Naftali Bennett, head of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party and a major force in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition. As a result, we are now witnessing in the Jordan Valley an accelerated process of what must, I fear, be called ethnic cleansing. It’s not a term I use lightly.

Continue reading “Palestine: The End of the Bedouins?”