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Abu a-Nuwar, 4 July 2018, still from video.
From the field

Who’s the real criminal here?

This morning, 4 July 2018, several Israeli Civil Administration officials came with a police escort and heavy construction vehicles to Route 1, to a spot by the Palestinian community of Khan al-Ahmar. They dismantled a portion of the guardrail that separates the community’s homes from the road and began paving an access road to the community, in order to ease access to the site in preparation for transferring the community. The police arrested several people who were staging a non-violent protest and blocking a bulldozer from getting through. Also arrested was B’Tselem Field Research Director Kareem Jubran who was filming events as they unfolded. Israel has already twice before transferred the residents of Khan al-Ahmar: The first time was in the 1950s, when it transferred them from where they were living in the Negev (within Israel proper). The second time Israel transferred them in order to construct the settlement of Kfar Adumim. Now Israel is poised to expel them from their homes for a third time.

Filmed by 'Amer 'Aruri and Kareem Jubran, B'Tslem

In addition, at around 9:00 A.M. this morning, Civil Administration personnel came with three bulldozers and an escort of dozens of police to the Palestinian community of Abu a-Nuwar, which is in the region of the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. They demolished nine dwellings and three farm buildings, leaving 62 people – about half of them minors – without a home. In early February, the Civil Administration demolished two classrooms in the Abu a-Nuwar school. The classrooms, which had been built with funding from the EU and the Palestinian Authority in late September 2017, were being used by 25 third- and fourth-graders.

In the South Hebron Hills, Civil Administration personnel arrived with a military escort at the Palestinian community of Susiya, apparently in order to plan the razing of seven structures whose demolition the Israeli Supreme Court okayed in a ruling it handed down in February.

Up until today, Israel never bothered to pave a road to the community of Khan al-Ahmar. Such a road would have provided the residents – who have been living there for decades – safe access to their homes. Nor did Israel ever take the trouble to connect the residents of these communities to the power or water grids. As a rule, Israel also prohibited them from adopting alternative solutions. Israel certainly never deigned to draft outline plans that would allow residents to live lawfully in their homes. It is thus that Israel deliberately created unbearable living conditions, designed to force the residents to leave, ostensibly of their own volition. Given this reality, and not owing to any deliberate intention of breaking the law, residents were forced to build without construction permits. But once they did so, the authorities suddenly became very aware of them and quickly brandished demolition orders. However, no military order or court ruling can make the transfer of these residents lawful or moral. Forcible transfer of Palestinian communities is a war crime, and all who are involved in approving or implementing it bear personal liability.