COMMISSION JUSTICE AND PEACE
ASSEMBLY OF THE CATHOLIC ORDINARIES
OF THE HOLY LAND
Statement on the demolition of
Since the 1980s, Israel has been actively attempting to transfer the Jahalin Bedouin from their homes in East Jerusalem to areas in the vicinity of Jericho. The reason for this transfer is to allow for the expansion of Jewish settlements established after 1967 around Jerusalem. This planned ring of settlements around Jerusalem will effectively sever Arab East Jerusalem from the West Bank, preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem. The demolition of Khan al-Ahmar has been repeatedly delayed, in part because of international concern and pressure. However, the Israeli authorities have proclaimed their determination to carry out the planned action, by force if necessary.
After a long period of legal struggle, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the Israeli Authorities are entitled to demolish the Bedouin village at Khan al-Ahmar and areas nearby and transfer the residents to an area near Jericho. This is a disaster for the residents of this village but also a real threat for many other locations the Israeli authorities seek to demolish for similar reasons, including the Bedouin living at Jabal al-Baba, Wadi al-Hindi, Al-Muntar, Abu Nuwar, Wadi al-Awaj etc. In fact, the Bedouin in the Jerusalem area are victims of a policy that is also being implemented in the Naqab (Negev), in the south of Israel, in places like Umm al-Hiran and elsewhere, a policy that promotes the displacement of Bedouin and the construction of Jewish settlements.
The Justice and Peace Commission of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land strongly condemn this action, which totally ignores the rights of thousands of Bedouin to live in peace, justice and dignity. Many of these people were already displaced after the 1948 War and are now, once again, being violently uprooted to make way for more illegal Israeli settlements.
The Commission points out that Israel is a signatory on the Geneva Convention, in which paragraph 4 prohibits the transfer of civil population in military occupied territory. This would not only imply that the Bedouin cannot be removed from their lands but also that the plan to bring Israeli settlers to populate this land is illegal. It is regrettable that the Israeli Supreme Court has found it necessary to declare legal an action that is blatantly illegal. The Bedouin were blocked from obtaining the necessary permits to stay on and develop their lands, whereas Jewish Israeli settlers are encouraged to consider such lands their own and to develop them.
The Commission calls on Israelis who are concerned about justice and peace as well as the international community to protest this violation of international law, demanding protection for the Bedouin and their rights.
The Justice and Peace Commission affirms the right of every human person to his land and place of residence, a natural and human right no state should violate. The Holy Land cries out for justice and humanity in the face of attempts to displace populations and replace them with others, an ongoing process throughout occupied Palestine and within parts of the State of Israel too. Our land is called to be a Holy Land, a land of justice and peace. We are called to join hands and work together for more humanity, more democracy, more equality, and more respect for every human being.