The people of Khan Al Ahmar, a small village in the occupied West Bank, have lived as refugees for half a century. Although their village is located 10 minutes from Jerusalem, their households have no running water and no electricity. Now Khan Al Ahmar, situated in an area earmarked for future expansion of the Israeli settlement Ma’ale Adumim, is being targeted for demolition and its people for forcible transfer. The village of Susiya, located in the South Hebron Hills, also faces demolitions orders. It has been demolished and displaced several times, most recently in 2001. Susiya’s 340 residents, including 120 children, are at imminent risk of forced displacement.

In the film Nowhere Left to Go, an elderly resident of Khan Al Ahmar states: “We have an empty life. We have no land, no home. And now they’re threatening to transfer us—what can we do?” In 2016, 12 structures in this same community were demolished, leaving 60 residents homeless (including 35 children).

Israel’s High Court of Justice approved the planned demolition of Khan Al Ahmar on May 24, 2018, rejecting petitions against the demolition from village residents and parents of children who attend Khan Al Ahmar’s so-called Rubber Tire School. The demolition is planned for June. The Bedouin villagers (173 people, including 92 children) will be forcibly relocated to Abu Dis, which is on the edge of a municipal garbage dump. Bedouin’s livelihoods, culture, and social structure are built around herding livestock; Abu Dis has neither the land nor the resources to support herding. According to Israeli human rights group and United Church solidarity partner B'Tselem, “the forcible transfer of residents of an occupied territory is a war crime” under international humanitarian law.

If the demolitions and forcible displacement of the villagers go ahead they will be in grave violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and will leave hundreds of men, women, and children homeless. B'Tselem says that the forcible transfer of an entire Palestinian community in the occupied Palestinian territories would be "virtually unprecedented" since the Israeli military occupation began in 1967.

This short video from B’Tselem shows Israel’s civil administration and police serving stop-work orders (a predecessor to demolition orders) in Khan Al Ahmar on February 19, 2017:

Take Action

The impact that ordinary people who seek justice can have when they take action is clear. Write to your elected representatives, asking them to act urgently for the sake of justice for the people of Khan Al Ahmar.

  1. Write to the Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and your member of Parliament:
    • Ask Minister Freeland to call on the Israeli government to reverse the decisions to demolish the villages of Khan Al Ahmar and Susiya and relocate the people of Khan Al Ahmar.
    • Ask Minister Freeland to urge Canada to call on the Israeli government to immediately freeze all settlement activity and demolition orders.
    • Request that your MP call on Minister Freeland during question period to ask what actions Canada is taking to press the Israeli government to reverse the demolition orders.
    A sample letter is available under Downloads, below.
  2. Share this Take Action on your social media networks. Use the hashtags #UCCan, #KhanAlAhmar, #Israel, #Palestine.
  3. Urge Minister Freeland to request that Canadian diplomatic missions in Palestine and Israel visit Khan Al Ahmar and Susiya immediately. In 2015, European Union representatives visited the village of Susiya, which was then also threatened with demolition. International publicity from this visit was vital in halting the planned demolitions at that time.

Background

The United Church of Canada has a long history of working with others to seek peace with justice in Israel and Palestine. This work is rooted in the gospel mandate to be peacemakers and in response to the calls of Palestinian and Israeli partners.

The repeated threats of demolitions in Bedouin Palestinian villages—such as Susiya, Khan Al Amar, and Ein ar Rashash—are a violation of international law. As the occupying power, Israel is bound by international humanitarian law to protect the Palestinian civilian population and administer the territory for their benefit. International law also prohibits the destruction of private property and the forced transfer or displacement of civilians.

According to Canadian policy, all Israeli settlements, including Ma’ale Adumim, are illegal. Demolitions and forcible displacement of Khan Al Ahmar and similar communities are a serious violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and leave hundreds of people homeless.

For more information about current activities, see Unsettling Goods: Choose Peace in Palestine and Israel.

Send your letters and e-mails to:

The Hon. Chrystia Freeland
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A6
E-mail: chrystia.freeland [at] international.gc.ca

Erin O’Toole
Conservative Party of Canada
E-mail: erin.otoole [at] parl.gc.ca

Hélène Laverdière
New Democratic Party
E-mail: helene.laverdiere [at] parl.gc.ca

Elizabeth May
Green Party of Canada
E-mail: elizabeth.may [at] parl.gc.ca

Mario Beaulieu
Bloc Québécois
E-mail: mario.beaulieu [at] parl.gc.ca

Luc Thériault
Québec Debout
E-mail: luc.theriault [at] parl.gc.ca

Send copies of your letters and emails to:

Christie NeufeldtProgram Coordinator Public Witness416-231-7680 ext. 4078
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4078
cneufeldt [at] united-church.ca

For more information contact:

Patti TalbotTeam Leader Church in Partnership416-231-7680 ext. 4018
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4018
ptalbot [at] united-church.ca