A demonstrator holds a Palestinian flag during a rally in support of Khan al-Ahmar residents [File: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]
The Israeli government has told Palestinians living in a Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank to demolish their homes within the next eight days and leave.
The warning on Sunday comes just weeks after Israel’s Supreme Court rejected appeals against demolition.
The Israeli defence ministry unit that oversees civilian affairs in the West Bank said in a statement: “Pursuant to a Supreme Court ruling, residents of Khan al-Ahmar received a notice today requiring them to demolish all the structures on the site by October 1st, 2018.”
The Israelis did not say what will happen if the Palestinians refuse to raze their own homes.
Israel’s plan to demolish the village, which is home to 180 people, and relocate its residents has been criticised by Palestinians and drawn international condemnation.
Earlier this month, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain renewed their call for Israel not to demolish the village, warning of the consequences for residents, as well as “the prospects of the two-state solution”.
“No one will leave. We will have to be expelled by force,” village spokesman Eid Abu Khamis said, adding that a residents’ meeting would be held later on the issue.
“If the Israeli army comes to demolish, it will only be by force.”
Cut West Bank in two
Khan al-Ahmar is situated a few kilometres from Jerusalem between two major illegal Israeli settlements, Maale Adumim and Kfar Adumim, which the Israeli government wants to expand.
The removal of the Bedouin village allows the Israeli government to effectively cut the West Bank in two.
The villagers are members of the Bedouin Jahalin tribe, which was expelled from their lands in the Naqab (Negev) desert by the Israeli military in the 1950s. They were displaced twice more before they settled in Khan al-Ahmar, long before the illegal settlements around it existed.
The small community of 40 families lives in tents and shacks on what is classified by the 1993 Oslo Accords as Area C, which accounts for 60 percent of the West Bank and is under total Israeli administrative and security control.
The court’s decision was largely based on the premise that the village was built without Israeli permission, which Palestinians say is impossible to obtain because of the expansion of illegal Jewish-only Israeli settlements there.
UN figures show Israeli authorities have approved just 1.5 percent of all permit requests by Palestinians between 2010 and 2014.
In early July, Israeli bulldozers destroyed a number of tents and other structures in Khan al-Ahmar, sparking confrontations with local residents.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies