Khan Al Ahmar Jahalin Bedouin Village and their “Mud and Tyre” School

A demolition order hangs over the Khan Al Ahmar Ecological Bedouin School – this little school for 100 children was built from old car tyres (see the bits sticking out in the wall) and mud.

The Jahalin Bedouins were forced to flee from the Negev Desert in 1951 and they are living in this area, seventeen kilometres outside of Jerusalem on the Jericho road, illegally – according to the IDF.  No building, whatsoever, is allowed in Area C so not only is their little school under threat but so are all their tent-like structures, in which Bedouins traditionally live. Their community also has an eviction order and alternative places to live are being explored.  The lawyer of the Bedouins has rejected one suggested site, which was previously a garbage dump.  He was able to submit a valid report that this site was not fit for humans to live on.  The tragedy is that the Israeli Government wants to force Bedouins to relocate to a city/town environment, which is totally foreign to them.  They prefer living out in the open and they do not wish to give up their animals.

Although the most recent court decision rejected an appeal by the settlers to demolish the primary school (they said it threatened their security), the school still has a demolition order hanging over it.  The judge urged the IDF to enter into dialogue with the Bedouin community.  The international community, which was responsible for funding the building of the school, is involved in lobbying the Israeli Government with regard to the complexities of this situation.  These 94 children do not have access to education because there is no other school nearly.  There is no school bus to Jericho for them and, in the past when boys did walk the 20 kms to school, 5 of them were killed on the highway by passing vehicles.

Whether the demolition order hangs overhead indefinitely or whether it is carried out within a few months, these people live in constant fear.  This is not normal.  People should be allowed to build homes when they marry and their family increases.

Demolition Orders on Schools, Houses and Animal Shelters

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Sufian Taha (he is wearing a white shirt) is showing the EAs the rubble of their family home in Beit Hanina (on the far side next to the red wall) and the stables of his three Arabian horses (on the right, opposite what remains of their house).

Since the Oslo Accords, many areas in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank have no mater plan for development.  Building is severely restricted and no allowances are made for the natural growth in Palestinian communities.

(See http://www.palestinefacts.org/pf_1991to_now_oslo_accords.php for the details.)

Building permits are almost impossible to obtain so many Palestinian people build without a permit.  Because Palestine is under Occupation, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is in control and enforces the law.  The IDF issues ‘stop work’ and ‘demolition’ orders to those who have erected any kind of structure without a permit.  In some cases, demolition orders were issued twenty years ago and still nothing has happened to their structure.  For many others the process has been very short.  JLAC (Jerusalem Legal Aid Centre) and their partners work around the clock to assist Palestinian people with legal advice and interventions to minimise the trauma of a house demolition.  Notices are issued in Hebrew and the majority of Palestinian people do not read or understand Hebrew.  JLAC and their partners try to educate Palestinian people to seek legal advice immediately in order to avoid extensive fines and to submit an appeal against the demolition order, with which they have been issued.

Most often, all the lawyers are able to do is to buy some time.  Eventually the structure, which was built without a permit, will be demolished.  Sometimes ‘illegal’ property is confiscated by the Israeli Government and given to a Jewish Settler.  This is happening more and more in the Old City of Jerusalem and in Palestinian neighbourhoods, like Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan in East Jerusalem.  The strategy of the Jerusalem Municipality, according to Dr Meir Margalit (a leftist Municipal Councillor), is that they want to ensure that a Jewish majority is created in every constituency of Jerusalem, before a true democracy comes about.