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Israeli court sets new hearing over order to evacuate Khan al-Ahmar

The government must present its plan to evacuate the Bedouin village built illegally on state-owned land by April 2.

The illegal Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, on Highway 1 between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. Photo by Josh Hasten.
The illegal Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, on Highway 1 between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. Photo by Josh Hasten.

Israel’s High Court of Justice on Tuesday sharply criticized the government’s request to again delay a longstanding evacuation order for the illegal Bedouin settlement of Khan al-Ahmar, and ordered the state to pay $6,000 to the Regavim NGO.

The Israeli government last Wednesday asked the court for a four-month extension for submitting its response to a ruling demanding the implementation of demolition orders against the village built on state-owned land.

It was the ninth time the state has requested a postponement.

The legal battle over the issue began in 2009, when Regavim filed its first petition against what it called “the Palestinian Authority’s flagship outpost in the systematic takeover of Area C” of Judea and Samaria. The encampment is located on land belonging to the city of Ma’ale Adumim, east of Jerusalem.

While the top court has rejected the residents’ appeal and upheld lower courts’ rulings ordering Khan al-Ahmar be evacuated, previous governments, including those led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have asked for and received deferments. The latest deadline for the government to present a detailed plan for the evacuation was Feb. 1.

In response to the government’s request, Regavim petitioned the court to issue a final order instructing the state to evacuate the encampment, noting the interim order had been pending since 2018.

The court on Tuesday set a May 1 hearing on whether to issue a final evacuation date, and an April 2 deadline for the state to present its plan to do carry out the evacuation.

The court awarded Regavim nearly $6,000 to cover costs related to its ongoing legal efforts.

“The government should formulate a working plan for the enforcement of the law in Khan al-Ahmar, as part of a fight against the Palestinian Authority’s institutionalized takeover of open areas in Judea and Samaria,” said Regavim in a statement on Tuesday.

“The State of Israel must behave like the owner of the house, even in the face of American pressure, otherwise no one in the world will take it seriously,” it added.

Israel has invested some 80 million shekels ($23.7 million) into a relocation site for the residents of Khan al-Ahmar near Abu Dis, where the government has prepared infrastructure, roads, electricity, water, sewage, a health clinic and school all on state land.

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