While the long struggle to save the village of Khan al-Ahmar continues from demolition, another fight is taking place on the sidelines – one that could have life-changing consequences for the fate of the Bedouins in Khan al-Ahmar and the future of the occupied West Bank.
Two Palestinian villages in the Ramallah area – Deir Dibwan and Anata – have filed a case with the Israeli Supreme Court and have asked the Israeli authorities to demolish illegal structures in the Israeli settlement of Kfar Adumim – the same regime that has insisted on the decision of the state to demolish Khan al-Ahmar.
The villagers argue for the demolition of 120 houses and buildings and four outposts in Kfar Adumim that were built without permits from the Israeli authorities and outside the planned boundaries of the settlement.
The structures in question were built on land owned by residents of Deir Dibwan and Anata.
The lawyer of the villages Tawfiq Jabareen, who also submitted petitions on behalf of Khan al-Ahmar, told Mondoweiss that he decided to file the case for Deir Dibwan and Anata while he was doing a petition for Khan al-Ahmar.
"When I took the case of Khan al-Ahmar and checked all the countries and the constructions around the village, I was shocked when I discovered that the Jewish settlement [Kfar Adumim] had illegally built many buildings, "he said.
Jabareen stressed that although all Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law, making this matter exceptional and possible, was that the buildings in question were also built in violation of Israeli national law.
"Under national law, settlers can build a house if you have a permit and a plan with a map," he said. "But all these buildings were built without permits and outside the border for the settlements, making it illegal according to Israeli law."
"In addition, some of them were built on private Palestinian land, which means that they are intruders and can not be on this land, not even according to Israel, which for me is unacceptable," Jabareen said. Mondoweiss.
Although almost half of the structures in question have been legalized with retroactive effect, Jabareen has continued the case with force.
In his letter to the High Court, which was obtained by MondoweissJabareen calls the "selective enforcement policy" of the Israeli government when considering settlers versus Palestinians.
He stresses the fact that many of the houses in Kfar Adumim, despite being illegally built, have been legalized with retroactive effect, while the entire village of Khan al-Ahmar, which existed long before the settlements, is threatened by total demolition because the state it is illegal.
"The Israelis are always expanding the settlements without permits and without any legal reason, and at the same time they are trying to demolish the Palestinian communities," Jabareen said.
Said Jabareen Mondoweiss that he believes that the case he submitted on behalf of Deir Dibwan and Anata not only plays a crucial role in the struggle to save Khan al-Ahmar, but also serves an important purpose in itself.
"The reason I am currently filing this case is Khan al-Ahmar," he said, "but if I knew about this case earlier, I would still have submitted it without any relationship to Khan. Ahmar. "
"I told myself to do it, I have to file this case now to show the double standards of the government and the courts," Jabareen said.
"Ultimately, it does not matter for the Israelis or what they do to be illegal under national law," he said. Mondoweiss"The proof of this is that the colonists build as they want and nobody stops them, it is an ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people from Area C."
New motivation to fight
At first sight, the village of Deir Dibwan, which is located 27 km north of Khan al-Ahmar, seems to be one of the last places to deal with land battles with settlers.
Famous in Palestine for its large villas and extravagant houses, the majority of Deir Dibwan residents live – around 12,000 out of 18,000 – full-time in the US, and only return to the village during the summers.
Mansour F. Mansour, the newly elected mayor of Deir Dibwan, was one of those residents until he was elected to his current position and decided to return to Palestine full-time.
It was not long after he started his new job when Mansour was approached by Jabareen, shortly after the latter had learned that some of the houses in Kfar Adumim were being built on the land of Deir Dibwan, which is one of the largest villages in Palestine in terms of land area.
"I was immediately inspired to be a part of this business," Mansour said Mondoweisswhile in his office in the middle of the city.
& # 39; We first contacted the villagers to which the country belonged, & # 39; he said, pointing to Nayef Menwer, one of the landowners, "and when they agreed, we gave the appropriate papers to Mr. Jabareen so that he could get to work."
With about 70% of the country of Deir Dibwan (about 60,000 dunums) in Area C, Mansour declared that every chance to get some of that land back to the village's inhabitants, or the settlers at least from the land, a big victory would be considered. .
"Our ancestors used to plant wheat and potatoes and grazed their cattle on all this beautiful land, and now we, the village, only have control over about 5,000-6,000 dunums of it," Mansour said.
The land of Menwer, in particular the area used by Kfar Adumim, was seized by Israel in the 1970s to be used as a military area.
"Eventually the military area changed into settlements and they told us the country," said Menwer, an older man in his 70s and full-time resident of the village, Mondoweisswhile he told stories about his ancestors and the crops they used to harvest.
"There is nothing left for us here, all the farmland is lost," he said, adding that he did not see much hope in the case filed by Jabareen, but that "it could not hurt to try."
While Menwer was in the mayor's office, disillusioned with the Israeli legal system and the failure of the international community to protect the Palestinian country, Mansour was visibly enlivened, ready to fight for Menwer and the other landowners in court.
"There has always been a feeling that, you know, you can not do anything against Israel or the settlers," Mansour said, talking about a rather sense of hopelessness and complacency in the village.
"But this time we'll try to fight," he said, "it's our country and we have to protect it."
Mansour, like Jabareen, sees the case of Deir Dibwan as an opportunity to save Khan al-Ahmar, and to prevent Israel's settlement company effectively cutting the West Bank in two if Khan al-Ahmar were to be replaced by a settlement block. .
"Everyone is connected and our struggles are connected to each other.If we save this country, Nayef & # 39; s country, maybe we can play a part in saving Khan al-Ahmar and save a part of Palestine," he said. .
"Even if it is only a small country in the eyes of some people, this is a national issue," Mansour said, a tone of cheerfulness in his voice, "Israel is trying to separate us all, but we must remain strong and united."
"We want to change the attitude of the people here, not only in Deir Dibwan, but everywhere, that we have the right to stand up against these injustices, and that our actions are not just our lives, but all of Palestine in the future. . "