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Say No to Forcible Transfer. 1 May 2018

 
Inside the al-Madrasah school slated for demolition: a pupil looks out the window. Photo by Faiz Abu Rmeleh, Activestills

Dear,

Last month you signed up to get updates about Palestinian communities facing the threat of forcible transfer. This is the first update we are sending you. It focuses on a community that Israel plans to transfer in less than two months.

The Khan al-Ahmar area, east of Jerusalem, is home to 1,400 Palestinians who live in twelve small farming-shepherding communities. One of these communities is al-Madrasah (literally: The School), population: 173. For the past decade, the al-Madrasah community has been waging a legal battle to reverse the demolition orders issued for every single structure in the community, including the school which serves 150 boys and girls from the area.

Initially, in response to the community’s petitions to the High Court of Justice, Israel stated it was exploring alternate sites for the forced relocation. In August 2017, with legal proceedings still pending, Israel’s Minister of Defense said that the government would carry out the transfer in a matter of months. About a month later, the state informed the court that it was planning to transfer the entire community to a site known as West al-Jabal, near the Abu Dis garbage dump.

At the hearing at Israel’s High Court of Justice last week (Wednesday, 25 April 2018), the state said it was planning to move the entire community to the new site within two months or so. This forcible transfer is plainly opposed by the residents. The court hearing never addressed the question of whether the transfer was justified in the first place. The justices merely asked whether there were alternate sites to which the residents could be moved.

What did the justices fail to address? The simple fact that Israel has created a reality in the West Bank whereby Palestinian communities that have been around for decades are deemed “illegal,” and Palestinians across most of the West Bank have no way to build legally.

Wednesday’s hearing ended with the justices deciding to grant the residents the opportunity to suggest “an alternate site that has a valid detailed outline plan that would enable issuing construction permits.” The justices gave the residents a week to come up with suggestions as if it were the residents’ responsibility to find solutions for their own expulsion and as if (even had they wanted to do so) there are even any sites that meet these criteria. In view of Israel’s intention of carrying out the forcible transfer in two months or so, the court ruling that will seal the residents’ fate will probably be made in the next few weeks.

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For more information on B’Tselem’s website.

The residents of al-Madrasah, like those of other nearby communities, endure harsh living conditions. Israel refuses to connect the community to the electric grid. In April 2015, Israel’s Civil Administration confiscated 12 power-generating solar panels donated to the communityPhoto by Faiz Abu Rmeleh, Activestills