EU "deeply concerned" over plans to demolish Palestinian community

A school which serves 170 children is facing destruction

EU "deeply concerned" over plans to demolish Palestinian community

EU Heads of Mission in Khan al Ahmar | Image via @EUpalestinians on Twitter

The European Union Heads of Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah say they are "deeply concerned" about plans by Israeli authorities to demolish Khan al Ahmar.

An EU delegation visited the community in the Jerusalem periphery, which is facing the threat of demolition and forced displacement.

The EU Heads of Missions also met with community leaders.

Khan al-Ahmar is home to a school which serves around 170 children of five local communities.

Several structures in the community, including the school, have been funded by the EU or EU member states.

The EU says demolition of the school would "severely impact" on Palestinian children's right to education.

The EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah have called on Israel not to carry out demolitions.

"Displacing the community would be in contravention with Israel's obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law", they say.

Khan al Ahmar is seen in February 2017 | Image: ochaopt.org

Speaking last month, United Nations humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick said: "We are monitoring the situation in Khan al Ahmar closely and are deeply concerned by what we see here, and in the scores of other vulnerable Bedouin communities.

"We call on the Israeli authorities to respect their legal obligations, as the occupying power, including through stopping the demolition of Palestinian-owned structures and ceasing plans for the relocation of Palestinian Bedouin communities."

Khan al Ahmar-Abu al Helu is home to 181 people, 53% of whom are children and 95% of whom are Palestine refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

The community is one of the 46 Bedouin communities in the central West Bank that the UN views as at risk of forcible transfer, including due to a coercive environment generated by Israeli practices and policies.

Eighteen of these communities, including Khan al Ahmar, are located in or next to an area slated in part for the E1 settlement plan - reportedly aimed at creating a continuous built-up area between Ma'ale Adumim settlement and East Jerusalem.

International humanitarian law prohibits the individual or mass forcible transfer of the protected population of an occupied territory regardless of the motive.

The UN says such transfer constitutes "a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention" and "amounts to a war crime potentially triggering the individual criminal responsibility of officials engaged in it."

It comes amid escalating tensions in the region, following the killing of 58 people by Israeli forces at the Gaza border earlier this week.