Israel’s Supreme Court okays the evacuation of a West Bank Bedouin village
The village is home to 35 families. Its school, the "School of Tires", has 170 pupils, many from nearby areas. Other schools are too far away and the road is dangerous. Israel wants to move residents next to a garbage dumb. Two Comboni sisters describe the situation.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The residents of the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank are about to be evicted after Israel’s Supreme Court gave the green light to an order to remove them and tear down their village.
Sister Azezet Kidane and Sister Agnese Elli, who are close to the community, have been witnesses to the residents’ anguish. "People are anxious,” said Sister Azezet, “because they do not know when they [the army] will come: in a week, a day. Children are constantly tense, as soon as they hear a car, a noise from outside, they get scared. They are upset."
Sister Agnese agrees. "The people in the village can’t sleep; tensions are running high. This morning, whilst we were there with some Italians, there was a constant flow of consuls, Palestinian and non-Palestinian officials and various journalists.
"The demolition order was first issued in 2009, when the school was built. People hung on for a year, then for another, until last year when the situation got worse. Since then, the children have had a very traumatic year. The teachers say that the children’s educational performance got really worse.”
The village is located in the West Bank, about eight km from Jerusalem, near the Israeli settlement of Kfar Adumim and Route 1, which connects East Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley.
The village has a school, a clinic, a mosque and some houses, mostly shacks made of metal, for 35 families or about 180 people.
The school is called ‘School of Tyres’ because it was built with tyres in 2009 thanks to the help of the Italian NGO Vento di Terra (Wind of Earth), the Comboni Sisters, Rabbis for human rights and other NGOs.
It has nine classes for 170 pupils, boys and girls, 35-40 from the village, whilst the others come from the surrounding areas.
For the two nuns, the Israeli government plans to move the residents to a place near al-Jabal, the hill, a garbage dumb. "It's very, very narrow. It raises the question of where the residents’ small herds will go.”
The new site should include a prefabricated school but for residents only. So "Where will the other children go?” Sister Agnese asks. “For them it would mean going to school in Ramallah, Jericho . . . but they are far away, there is no school bus service, and the road is very dangerous, because it is a very busy highway."
NGOs like B'tselem have slammed the decision, because it was based on the idea that the Bedouins built without a permit when in fact it is impossible for them to get one.
“The Palestinians cannot build legally and are excluded from the decision-making mechanisms that determine how their lives will look,” B'tselem said.
In light of the situation, many outsiders have expressed solidarity towards the villagers, Sister Agnese and Sister Azezet said.
“At present, many Israeli and Palestinian activists are here,” Sister Agnese said. “They have been coming for months to sleep here so that the community does not feel alone, to make them feel that they have support.”