Israel blocks EU envoys' visit to school in threatened Bedouin village

KHAN AL-AHMAR: European diplomats on Thursday tried to pay a solidarity visit to a West Bank village under threat of demolition by Israel but police barred them from reaching a school there.

“We were briefed by local leaders but refused access by security forces to the school,” the Irish representative office to the West Bank wrote on its official Twitter feed.

“We wanted to show our solidarity with this village which is threatened with destruction, for humanitarian reasons and because it is a major issue of international law,” the Consul General of France in Jerusalem, Pierre Cochard, told journalists at the scene.

He said that demolishing the village of 173 residents, east of Jerusalem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, would be a violation of the Geneva convention laying out the obligations of an occupier toward those under its control.

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But activists say the villagers had little alternative but to build without Israeli construction permits, as the documents are almost never issued to Palestinians for building in parts of the West Bank, such as Khan al-Ahmar, where Israel has full control over civilian affairs.

On Tuesday, activists said, Israel issued orders authorising the seizure of access roads to the village.

Heavy equipment has since been seen there, feeding speculation a road was being prepared to facilitate its evacuation and demolition and sparking scuffles between Israeli police and protesters.

“What the Israeli authorities are doing is a population transfer contrary to the Rome and Geneva conventions,” Palestinian lawyer Munji Abdallah, 50, told AFP.

Khan al-Ahmar is located near several major Israeli settlements and close to a highway leading to the Dead Sea.

Activists are concerned that continued Israeli settlement construction in the area could effectively divide the West Bank in two.

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