Caabu delegation meets Bedouin community due to have their homes demolished the following day

In May 2012 a Caabu parliamentary delegation to the West Bank met a Bedouin community hours after they had been told that their homes would be demolished by Israeli authorities the next day.

The eight families living in al-Khan al-Ahmar – Kurshan community recently received new pre-fabricated houses from an international NGO.  The community is located in the Ma’ale Adumim “bubble” – an area of the West Bank on the Jerusalem periphery which is earmarked for the expansion of settlements.

The Bedouin knew when they accepted the houses that they risked demolition, since only 1% of Area C of the West Bank is zoned for Palestinian construction and the Israeli Civil Administration nearly always refuses to grant permits.  Sure enough, within one week of construction, their new homes had been issued with a demolition order.

When the Caabu delegation met the Bedouin, they had been informed just hours before that the demolition order would be carried out the next day.  Abu Faris, a community leader, said that they would rebuild after the demolition, stating, “The only way I will leave this land is if I am allowed to return to my ancestral home in the Negev desert.”

Caabu Parliamentary Officer Kate Meekings, who was with the delegation, said, “Sadly the situation of the Kurshan community at al-Khan al-Ahmar is typical of the dilemma faced by Palestinian Bedouin in Area C of the West Bank.  They have been displaced multiple times since 1948 and Israeli restrictions on building and grazing have made their lives unliveable.  Yet this is their home and the alternative is forcible relocation to a site next to al-Sawahira rubbish dump.”

Fortunately, the next day a local human rights group was able to obtain a court injunction which prevented the Israeli authorities from carrying out the demolition order.  However, although the threat of demolition has been stayed for a time, it has not been removed altogether and the 2,300 Bedouin living in the Ma’ale Adumim bubble all remain at risk of forced displacement.

The visit to the Bedouin communities came on the third day of a five-day Caabu delegation to the West Bank and Israel.  The group visited Hebron to see the impact of H2 settlement in the heart of the city, as well as Palestinian towns particularly impacted by the Wall.  They also witnessed the trials of children in the military courts at Ofer and had meetings with Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Prime Minister, and Mark Regev, the Israeli Prime Minister’s spokesman.

The delegation was led by Ian Lucas MP, shadow Middle East minister, and included Rt Hon John Denham MP, Rt Hon Dame Joan Ruddock MP and Frank Doran MP.