by Daniel Siryoti
Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories tells residents of illegally built Bedouin village that they have until Oct. 1 to raze structures on their own
Palestinians surround a bulldozer to prevent demolition in Khan al-Ahmar
The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, the authority that oversees political affairs in the Arab Israeli sector, and several smaller Arab organizations have declared a general strike in the Arab sector for Monday, Oct. 1, to protest a demotion order issued for the Bedouin village Khan al-Ahmar, located off a highway that runs through the West Bank from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea.
Around 180 Bedouin live in tin and wood shacks in Khan al-Ahmar, 10 kilometers (6 miles) east of Jerusalem between the Israeli communities of Maaleh Adumim and Kfar Adumim.
Israel plans to demolish the illegally built village and relocate its 180 resident to a site 12 kilometers (7 miles) away.
The planned strike will entail a halt to all business and the activity of public institutions operated by nonprofit groups, although schools will operate as usual. Since the strike is scheduled for the last day of the Sukkot festival, when all public services and most private businesses will be closed anyway, the strike will have little if any effect on the general population.
On Sunday, the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories informed the residents of Khan al-Ahmar that in accordance with a ruling handed down by the High Court of Justice rejecting injunctions against the demolition, they were being asked to demolish all the buildings by Oct. 1.
COGAT's message stressed that the demolition was in accordance with a High Court ruling which determined that the village had been constructed without the necessary permits.
The Palestinians claim that Israeli building permits have been impossible to get for Khan al-Ahmar. Israel has long sought to clear Bedouin from the area between the two communities, and the High Court originally approved the demolition in May.
COGAT informed the residents that the government was allowing them to demolish existing structures on their own volition rather than waiting for government bulldozers to knock them down.
"The right-wing, settler government is forcibly and brutally implementing its annexation plan and is trying to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state at any price," Joint Arab List MK Yousef Jabareen said Tuesday.
Jabareen added that the government was "spitting in the face of peaceful people and the international community. Demolishing the village and forcibly transferring its residents comprise a crime against humanity, and those who carry it out will stand trial in the International Criminal Court in The Hague."
Tareq, a resident of Khan al-Ahmar, said that the residents' protest against the planned demolition would not be violent.
"My grandfather, my father, and my children and I were all born here. This is our home. We won't move anywhere else. We won't do anything violent. That's the position of most of the residents. If they demolish our homes, we'll live and sleep in tents. But we won't move from here," he said.
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