Palestinians File War Crimes Claim against Israel over Razing of West Bank Village

Palestinians File War Crimes Claim against Israel over Razing of West Bank Village

Tuesday, 11 September, 2018 - 10:00
The Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar. (AFP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Palestinians have filed a war crimes claim at the International Criminal Court over Israel’s plan to raze the West Bank bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar.

Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary-General Saeb Erekat stressed that Israel should be held accountable for its plan to demolish the village.

The plans have sparked international outcry over the continued displacement of Palestinians by Israel. European countries urged Israel this week to refrain from demolition.

Israel claims that the village was illegally built and has offered to resettle residents, but critics say that its removal is meant to make room for an Israeli settlement.

The European Union had urged Israel to scrap the evacuation plan, under which Israel will relocate the residents to an area about 12 km (seven miles) away, near the Palestinian village of Abu Dis.

But the new site is next to a landfill, and rights advocates say a forcible transfer of the residents would violate international law applying to occupied territory.

Israel's Supreme Court rejected an appeal last week, paving the way for demolition.

Earlier, Palestinian activists had set up five shipping containers, one with a Palestinian flag, near Khan al-Ahmar to protest the razing plans.

Activist Abdullah Abu Rahmeh said that the move is a message to Israel that "it's our right to build on our land."

The Palestinian government, in a statement last week, said the razing of Khan al-Ahmar was part of an Israeli plan to create an arc of Jewish settlements that would effectively cut off East Jerusalem from the West Bank, areas captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Palestinians seek to establish a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Khan al-Ahmar is situated outside Jerusalem between two Israeli settlements.

The Palestinian government said the ruling gave “occupation forces the authority to commit an international crime by forcibly displacing the 180 Palestinian citizens of Khan al-Ahmar”.

Khan al-Ahmar was built without Israeli permits, a factor cited prominently in the court’s decision. Palestinians say such documents are impossible to obtain.

Most countries consider settlements built by Israel on land it captured in the 1967 Middle East War as illegal and an obstacle to peace. They say they reduce and fragment the territory Palestinians seek for a viable state.

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