Israel gives Bedouin villagers till end of month to quit
JERUSALEM - Israeli authorities issued a notice to residents of a Bedouin village in a strategic spot in the occupied West Bank on Sunday informing them they have until the end of the month to leave.
The fate of Khan al-Ahmar has drawn international concern, with European countries calling on Israel not to move ahead with plans to demolish it.
Israel's supreme court on September 5 rejected appeals against demolition, allowing authorities to move ahead.
Israel says the village was built without the proper permits, though it is extremely difficult for Palestinians to receive such permission in that part of the West Bank.
The notice given to the some 200 residents of Khan al-Ahmar on Sunday says they have until the end of the month to demolish the village themselves.
"Pursuant to a supreme court ruling, residents of Khan al-Ahmar received a notice today requiring them to demolish all the structures on the site by October 1st, 2018," a statement from the Israeli defence ministry unit that oversees civilian affairs in the West Bank said.
It did not say what will happen if they refuse to do so. Village residents vowed not to leave despite the notice.
"No one will leave. We will have to be expelled by force," said village spokesman Eid Abu Khamis, adding that a residents' meeting would be held later on the issue.
"If the Israeli army comes to demolish, it will only be by force."
The village is located in a strategic spot east of Jerusalem, near Israeli settlements and along a road leading to the Dead Sea.
There have been warnings that continued settlement building in the area would eventually divide the West Bank in two, dealing a death blow to any remaining hopes of a two-state solution.
Israeli authorities have offered alternative sites for Khan al-Ahmar residents, but villagers say the first was near a rubbish dump and the latest close to a sewage treatment plant.