Israel is planning on evicting the Jahalin Bedouins from their settlements in the Jerusalem periphery to the Jericho area of the Jordan Valley. Israel’s Civil Administration suggests this plan is being conducted in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, and that a Palestinian construction company has already been awarded a project to build 800 housing units in the Jericho area.
Israeli efforts to evict the Jahalin Bedouins from their settlements in the area of Khan Al Akhmar in the Jerusalem periphery began already in the early 1990s to facilitate construction and expansion of Ma’ale Adumim, now the third largest settlement in the West Bank with a population of some 39,000. Throughout the 1990s Israel issued between 100-120 military or court orders for eviction of the Jahalin Bedouins.
In 1996 some 4,000 members of Jahalin were evicted. In 1998, however, an appeal to the Israeli High Court resulted in a deal between Israel’s Civil Administration and representatives of 35 Jahalin families, who were permitted to “lease state lands” that originally belonged to the Palestinian town of Abu Dis. Thus, the village of ‘Arab al-Jahalin was founded.
The presence of other Jahalin communities in Area E1, to the north of Ma’ale Adumim, was tolerated, although the risk of eviction never passed.
In 2012, plans to relocate those living in Area E1, together with 22 other communities for a total of 2,300 people – to Arab al-Jahalin village were dropped and Israel’s Civil Administration began to search for a different location.
The Jahalin Bedouins are originally from the Tel Arad area in the northern Naqab (Negev), but were evicted from the area in the early 1950s by the Israeli army. Prior to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in June 1967, they travelled and herded their livestock between Ramallah, Wadi Qelt and Jerusalem, maintaining a traditional Bedouin lifestyle. Following the 1967 war, Israel’s army confiscated most Jahalin lands and as a result, the community settled in the area of Khan al Akhmar, where later the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim was built outside of Jerusalem.
Attorney Shlomo Lecker, who represents the Jahalin in Israeli courts, said in an interview with “The Media Line” that he has information the Israeli army plans to relocate to Jericho the Bedouin communities.
According to Lecker, “homes will be built on the outskirts of Jericho in Area A (which is under complete Palestinian control). He adds that later Israel ”will offer to give the Palestinians this area in exchange for annexing part of Area C”.
Lecker added that this plan will be presented in the next 2-3 weeks, although Israeli officials deny finalization of a plan concerning the Jahalin.
Guy Inbar, a spokesman for the Israeli Civil Administration, says Bedouins living in E1 are there illegally. According to Inbar, all the structures in area, including the school, have outstanding Israeli demolition orders against them. Inbar adds that one alternative “is to relocate them to the Jordan Valley.” Furthermore, he claims the Civil Administration is working with the Palestinian Authority on a proposal to build 800 housing units in the Jericho area.
According to Inbar a Palestinian construction company has already been awarded this project in a bidding process.
* This article was published by the Alternative Information Center (AIC)