Israel faces yet more accusations over its planned demolition of the village of Khan Al Ahmar and the relocation of the residents, the Bedouin Jahalin clan.
Far from the crime some observers claim this is, the Jahalin tribal members are being moved some four miles, from a shanty town of favela-like structures lacking water and electricity beside a major highway on land they do not claim to own, to a purpose-built development with modern amenities including a school.
The school the children are using at present is a fire hazard, built from tyres and mud held together with used cooking oil.
Most of the men are hobby farmers nowadays, with some 80% employed in nearby Israeli businesses. A large part of the tribe voluntarily relocated to a local Arab town some years ago.
Over more than nine years of litigation the Jahalin have been offered six different locations, all rejected for a variety of reasons. The PA and European NGOs have facilitated illegal construction at Khan Al Ahmar and similar unauthorised encampments in what some Israelis consider efforts to undermine the intentions of the Oslo Peace Accords and create a de facto state in Area C without negotiation. The objections of local Arab villagers to a Bedouin suburb sound strikingly similar to the “not in my back yard” arguments sometimes heard in Ireland in relation to the provision of housing to members of the Traveling Community.
The Jahalin are between a rock and several hard places.
Israel is adamant they will move, the PA is equally determined to keep them where they are, and their future neighbours don’t want them. However it is a strange sort of sympathy which insists, for the purposes of political point-scoring, that they should be left in an unserviced roadside slum when they have access to modern housing and educational facilities just a few miles away.
by Teresa Trainor