The Israeli military has shut down all roads leading to a Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank that is threatened with demolition.
The move on Friday came days after the Israeli Supreme Court gave the green light for the army to raze Khan al-Ahmar and expel its 180 residents to make way for the building of illegal settlements.
Abdullah Abu Rahma, a local Palestinian official, told Anadolu Agency that Israeli army bulldozers had blocked all the roads leading to the village, which is located near East Jerusalem, with large mounds of earth.
Dozens of local residents and solidarity activists had tried to keep the roads open, according to Abu Rahma.
The Israeli army also continued to dismantle metal shacks that had been set up by activists protesting against the planned demolition.
Israeli forces also “erected large … metal swing gates, sort of semi-permanent barriers, that can be opened and closed at will,” said Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from Khan al-Ahmar.
“It seems that the activity this morning was about the latest stage of preparations ahead of this demolition,” Fawcett explained.
Palestinians hold sit-in over plan to demolish Khan al-Ahmar
Israel’s plan to demolish the village and relocate its residents has been criticised by Palestinians and drawn international condemnation.
On Thursday, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling Israel’s decision to demolish Khan al-Ahmar and forcefully remove its inhabitants a breach of international humanitarian law.
Petitions to reverse the demolition order were rejected by Israel’s top court, which agreed with Israeli authorities saying that the village had been built without proper permits.
Palestinians say that the required building permits are impossible to obtain.
The villagers are members of the Bedouin Jahalin tribe which was expelled from their lands in the Naqab (Negev) desert by the Israeli military in the 1950s. They were displaced twice more before they settled in Khan al-Ahmar, long before the illegal settlements around it existed.
The small community of 40 families lives in tents and shacks on what is classified by the 1993 Oslo Accords as Area C, which accounts for 60 percent of the West Bank and is under total Israeli administrative and security control.
The Israeli authorities hope to expel 10,000 Bedouin residents from the E1 Zone, which sits on 15 square kilometers of land in East Jerusalem, to make way for a series of new Jewish-only residential units linking Jerusalem to the Maale Adumim illegal settlement.
Activists say that continued settlement building in the area would eventually divide the occupied West Bank in two, dealing a death blow to any remaining hopes of a two-state solution.
Back in Khan al-Ahmar, Fawcett explained that after the Israeli plan is for the village’s residents to “be moved to a satellite town on the eastern fringes of occupied East Jerusalem called Abu Dis”.