Israel’s supreme court has ruled in favour of demolishing a Palestinian Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank, despite a campaign by European governments to save it. Campaigners said the hearing had been the final appeal open to the village of Khan al-Ahmar, located close to several Israeli settlements east of Jerusalem. It was unclear when the demolition of the village, home to about 180 residents, would take place.
In its ruling on Thursday, the court said it found “no reason to intervene in the decision of the Minister of defence to implement the demolition orders issued against the illegal structures in Khan al-Ahmar”. The residents would be relocated elsewhere, it added, in a move critics say amounts to forcible transfer. The court ruled that the village was built without the relevant building permits. Such permits are nearly impossible to obtain for Palestinians in Israeli-controlled areas of the West Bank.
“This verdict takes away the absolute minimal protection the Bedouin communities received until recently from the court,” Shlomo Lecker, the lawyer representing the village, said in a statement. “By any standard of international humanitarian law, the verdict is an approval by the Israeli court of a crime against humanity.” The decision was likely to be met with anger by European governments, which had been fighting to save the village.
Last week the head of the British consulate-general in Jerusalem visited the village and said in a video clip published online that the planned demolition was a “matter of great concern for the UK and indeed for the European Union”. Earlier on Thursday, Israel’s defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, announced 2,500 new settlement units in the West Bank. All settlements are considered illegal under international law.