In their ruling, Justices Amit, Meltzer, and Baron described an imaginary world with an egalitarian planning system that takes into account the needs of the Palestinians, as if there had never been an occupation. The reality is diametrically opposed to this fantasy: Palestinians cannot build legally and are excluded from the decision-making mechanisms that determine how their lives will look. The planning systems are intended solely for the benefit of the settlers.This ruling shows once again that those under occupation cannot seek justice in the occupier’s courts. If the demolition of the community of Khan al-Ahmar goes ahead, the Supreme Court Justices will be among those who will bear responsibility for this war crime.
On 1 Aug. 2018, the court ordered the state to detail its proposed alternative for the community. On 7 Aug., the state responded in bad faith, suggesting a site to be prepared sometime in the future that does not meet the residents’ needs, lies close to a sewage treatment plant and requires expropriation of Palestinian land. It also demanded that the residents first move to the site near the Abu Dis garbage dump, cynically tying the alternative to their persuading 3 other communities to move, too. The immediate threat to Khan al-Ahmar must be stopped now. Its fulfillment will heighten the danger facing ~200 other Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
For years Israel has been endeavoring to displace this community for a variety of reasons, including the expansion of nearby settlements, de facto annexation of the area – without its Palestinian residents – and bisecting the West Bank, cutting it in two. To that end, Israeli authorities have made the lives of the residents intolerable, hoping to make them leave their homes, ostensibly of their own volition.
Yesterday, 4 June 2018, around midday, Israeli Civil Administration officials arrived at the community of Khirbet Humsah in the northern Jordan Valley and handed temporary evacuation orders to five Palestinians families who were already displaced from their homes three times in the last two months. The families were ordered to vacate their homes today, 5 June, from 6 o’clock in the morning until noon, allegedly for the purpose of military training nearby. This morning, Civil Administration officials and a military detail came to the community and accompanied the families, who evacuated on their own – some by car and others on foot. All 29 family members – 19 of whom are minors, including an infant and a child with Down syndrome – had to again go with some of their livestock to a secluded area about ten kilometers from home and wait there, maintaining the Ramadan fast with no shelter, until receiving permission to return home.
On Thursday, 24 May 2018, three Israeli Supreme Court justices – Noam Sohlberg, Anat Baron and Yael Willner – ruled that the state may demolish the homes of the community of Khan al-Ahmar, transfer the residents from their homes and relocate them. This ruling removes the last stumbling block in Israel’s way in the matter, lifting the impediment which had thus far served to defer the transfer of the community, a war crime under international law. While it is a policy shaped by the government, the justices – here as well as in other cases – pitched in and paved the road to the commission of a war crime. Personal liability for the commission of this crime will fall not only on policy-makers. Those who paved the juridical route enabling the crime are equally liable.
Israel’s regime of occupation is inextricably bound up in human rights violations. B’Tselem strives to end the occupation, as that is the only way forward to a future in which human rights, democracy, liberty and equality are ensured to all people, both Palestinian and Israeli, living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.