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REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK / Palestine

Bedouins of West Bank's Jabal al-Baba face displacement, again

Israeli military issues eviction order for village of Jabal al-Baba, home to Bedouins displaced from the southern Negev desert.

by Harry Fawcett

Occupied West Bank - Jabal al-Baba only really reveals itself once you start walking through it.

You notice that a depression in the rocky landscape contains a small cluster of wood-and-metal shelters.

Further down the unpaved track, another home sits next to a pen of sheep and goats.

The village, on a tree-lined hilltop east of Jerusalem, is a legacy of the creation of Israel.

Bedouin families displaced from the southern Negev desert ended up here, in what was to become the occupied West Bank. And now they face displacement again.

The Israeli military has issued an eviction order for the entire village - an instrument originally designed for use against illegal Israeli settlement outposts.

This week, the Palestinian Authority set up a meeting in the village. The head of the PA's commission on settlements and the separation wall vowed to fight for its survival.

That's something the villagers themselves have grown used to. Adnan Jahaleen is the owner of the shelter next to the livestock pen.

On the fringe of the village, he says his home has been demolished three times since 2014 by Israeli forces who accuse him of trying to expand its territory.

"They demolish the house and say if you want to live, live with the rest of them uphill," he tells us.

The new eviction notice dispenses with such home-by-home measures - it's a blanket threat to Jaba al-Baba's existence.

In a statement to Al Jazeera, the Israeli military said it was merely acting against "the illegal construction phenomenon in the area".

For Fouad Halaq, a member of the PLO negotiations department, the aim is clear; to facilitate the expansion of the nearby mega-settlement of Maale Adumim, helping to encircle Jerusalem, and split the occupied West Bank in two.

He also notes the timing, as the Trump administration prepares to unveil its proposal for restarting the peace process, early next year: "They create facts on the ground and say, 'This is the situation now, you have to accept it.'"

A legal challenge is under way, though. Its author, Netta Amar-Shiff, a lawyer with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), is optimistic that it will at least delay any demolitions.

In the meantime, Jabal al Baba's residents are doing what they do at this time every year - preparing for the cold winter to come.


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SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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