On 5 September, Israel’s Supreme Court gave the green light to demolish Khan al-Ahmar. Khan al-Ahmar is a Bedouin village and home to 180 people.
The UN condemned the proposed demolition and campaigners from Stop the Wall say the action will amount to “ethnic cleansing”. But there is action we can all take to put pressure on the Israeli government and the companies profiting from the destruction.
Following a nine-year battle, demolition is set to start in Khan al-Ahmar in a week. The village, on the West Bank, was set up in 1951 after the community was displaced from Naqab. Following Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in 1967, it refused to recognise the village as residential. As such, it refused to connect the village to basic amenities such as water and electricity.
In June, UN officials spoke out against the proposed demolition. Humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick said that if the plans went ahead, the Israeli government would be breaking international law:
Should the Israeli authorities choose to implement the outstanding demolition orders… they would not only generate significant humanitarian hardship but also commit one of the grave breaches of international humanitarian law.
Labour MP Richard Burden also tweeted that the Israeli government’s actions would constitute a war crime:
Israel’s Supreme Court approves destruction of Khan Al Ahmar – home to 180 people with its primary school serving children from 5 Bedouin villages. Forcible transfer of civilians is war crime. International community must show crime has consequences. https://t.co/xlOnYGhgwB
— Richard Burden MP (@RichardBurdenMP) September 6, 2018
The school kids that went back early
Amnesty International highlighted the school children in the area who went back early to protect their school:
Have you been enjoying your summer holidays? Then spare a thought for the Palestinian children of Khan al-Ahmar who curtailed their vacation this year and went back to school early to prevent the Israeli army destroying it. @laithzia https://t.co/7XF5F7BIF9
— amnestypress (@amnestypress) September 6, 2018
Built in 2009, the Khan al-Ahmar school provides education to 150 children in the village and surrounding areas. Speaking to an Amnesty campaigner in June, the children said that:
Their worst fear was the arrival of Israeli forces to demolish their homes and school.
Stop the destruction
Following the Supreme Court decision, campaigners have called on people to protest the companies profiting from the destruction:
— Shoal Collective (@ShoalCollective) September 5, 2018
In particular, Corporate Occupation says that people in the UK can take action against JCB in solidarity with the people of Khan al-Ahmar:
We need to organise ourselves to take direct action against these companies. Here in the UK, it’s important to focus on British company JCB.
“Companies should work for humanity”
In July, Corporate Occupation published an interview with Atta Jaber about the demolition of his property near Hebron. He described what happened when the bulldozers arrived:
Around 100-150 soldiers came. They pushed me and told me to sit in the house. When my son and daughter came home from school they were aggressive toward them. There were around 50 workers from the Civil Administration, too, with the soldiers. I just sat in the house and watched. What can you do?
Jaber said the demolition had destroyed the three acres of crops his wife grew, alongside damaging the family’s water cistern, meaning they are now without water. But it’s not the first time his family has experienced the devastating impact of Israeli occupation:
After our houses were demolished for the first time in 1998, we had to live in a tent for the whole summer and winter. My oldest daughter wanted to hang herself from the fig tree when she was 5 years old because she didn’t have a home.
He is also clear that the companies involved should take responsibility for their actions:
We have poor people, hungry people, sick people without homes. We can’t exist here in the villages without water. Equipment from companies like JCB and Bobcat could be used for agriculture or for connecting water pipes. Instead of bulldozing homes, homes could be rebuilt for the people. Why are schools being demolished in villages? Maybe one of those students would have become a doctor and discovered the cure for cancer. Why don’t these companies build universities for poor students? Companies should work for humanity.
Now, more than ever, we must not be intimidated by the current climate. We must call out the racist policies of the Israeli government and support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign. And most importantly, we must stand in solidarity with people like Jaber and the people in Khan al-Ahmar.
– Sign Amnesty International’s petition to “ban Israeli settlement goods from entering your markets, and to stop companies based in your country operating in settlements or trading in their goods”.
– Find your nearest JCB supplier here.
Featured image via Wikimedia/’Atef Abu a-Rub and Yusef Bani ‘Odeh