Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Liz Throssell
Location:  Geneva
Date:  3 July 2018
Subject:  (1) Israel / Bedouin, 

(1) Israel / Bedouin

We are deeply concerned at reports that the Palestinian Bedouin community of Khan al Ahmar-Abu al Helu is set to be demolished by the Israeli authorities in the coming days.

The community is home to 181 people – more than half of them children – and is one of the 46 Bedouin communities in the central West Bank that the UN views as being at high risk of forcible transfer due to an environment generated by Israeli practices and policies that coerces people and communities to move.

For more than a decade people in the Khan al Ahmar community, which is located near to where large Israeli settlements have been established, have resisted efforts to move them to make way for settlement expansion. Legal avenues to resist ended on 24 May 2018 when the Israeli High Court ruled there was no reason to delay implementation of demolition orders over the structures in the community, including a school. The demolition orders were originally issued on the grounds that all the structures were illegally built.

As reiterated by the Secretary-General and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the planning regime adopted by Israel in this area – designated as Area C – is discriminatory and incompatible with requirements under international law. Any demolitions undertaken in this context would likely amount to forced evictions and a violation of the right to housing of individuals living in the community.

Moreover international humanitarian law prohibits the destruction or confiscation of private property by the occupying power.

Demolition of Khan al Ahmar would dramatically increase the coercive environment in which the community is living. There is also grave concern that should the demolition go ahead, the community may ultimately be forcibly transferred by the occupying power. International humanitarian law prohibits the forced transfer of the population of an occupied territory, regardless of the motive. Such a transfer would amount to a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Forcible transfer does not necessarily require the use of physical force by authorities; it can happen when individuals or communities are given no choice but to leave.  Any transfer without the genuine and fully informed consent of those affected is considered forcible.

We call on the Israeli authorities not to proceed with the demolition of Khan al Ahmar-Abu al Helu, to respect the rights of residents to remain on their land and have their status regularized.