Photo Credit: Kobi Richter / TPS
Khan Al-Ahmar, January 2019

The government asked the High Court of Justice to postpone the evacuation of the illegal Arab outpost of Khan Al-Ahmar, even though the Court said it would not grant such an extension, the latest phase in 13 years of court battles.

The state submitted on Monday a request to the High Court for another postponement of the response to the conditional order regarding the eviction of Khan Al-Ahmar, claiming that the matter cannot be decided during an election period.

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Next Sunday, the date will come when the state is required by court order to answer why it is not fulfilling its commitment to evacuate the Bedouin outpost Khan Al-Ahmar, this after six postponements in this petition regarding the illegal outpost situated adjacent to Kfar Adumim.

In a hearing that was held about a year ago, the state informed the court that significant progress had been made regarding the formulation of an agreed outline for the implementation of the demolition orders, but an additional period of time was required before it would be possible to act on the implementation of the orders and therefore requested a six-month extension until March.

When the deadline arrived, the state asked for another postponement and the court approved the request while noting that in the decision it handed down that “in light of the frequent requests for extensions and postponements, some of which were justified but most of which were less so; and in light of the amount of time that this petition has been pending, nearly three years; and in light of the fact that this ‘saga’ has been unfolding since 2009 when demolition orders were issued … we are forced at this juncture to take a further step toward a conclusion, by issuing a conditional order.”

When July arrived and the state again procrastinated in giving its answer, the court issued a conditional order requiring it to answer by September 11, next week. The state again placed a request on the court’s table for an extension of time until the new government is established after the elections in November, claiming that it is not possible to formulate an important, complex and sensitive affidavit without the political echelon being consolidated and that it cannot be done during an election period.

The Regavim Movement, which has been demanding law enforcement against the illegal squatters’ camp at Khan al Ahmar for over a decade, stated, stated on Tuesday that “it is not possible for [Yair] Lapid and [Benny] Gantz, who promote the rule of law, to disrespect the justice system and the public’s trust like this.”

“There is no dispute that the illegal outpost deserves to be removed as determined by the High Court, and every delay proves that it is not the rule of law that is important to the government, but their chair. The time has come long ago – to remove the disgrace and evacuate Khan Al-Ahmar.”

The Khan al Ahmar saga, more than a decade long, has been heard in multiple High Court of Justice petitions submitted by Regavim.

In 2018, the Israeli government announced its intention to complete the evacuation and relocation of the illegal outpost, the flagship of the Palestinian Authority’s systematic program of territorial dominance in Area C, but has since repeatedly postponed the court-ordered action.

The Jahalin Bedouin, the residents of Kahn Al-Ahmar, are an offshoot of a larger tribe based in southern Israel. After a blood feud that occurred within the tribe in the 1970s, some of the families were forced out and migrated north, arriving and settling in their present location after the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

The location of the illegal structures is hazardous due to its proximity to Highway 1, a major transportation artery. Khan al Ahmar overlooks the road that connects Jerusalem to the south of Israel in a strategic area.

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