al-Khadr: A meeting with the M. family by its demolished house

Kamal, Natanya G, and Anat Tueg (reports and photographs)

We met the M. family a few months ago when we came for an introductory visit and encouragement following a plea from England. The family lives in a private area in al-Khader (Khader), on top of a hill overlooking Road 60 on the west. Three generations in one dilapidated building. A nearby structure, which began construction with the support of the AMOS organization, has been demolished three times and is once again under construction. A demolition order was issued for it in early 2021, and a petition for its cancellation was filed in February 2021 by the St. Yves Association, which provides legal assistance in many demolition cases in the West Bank. A few days ago, the rejection of the petition was accepted based on the claim:  construction in an archeological site. Now the building might be demolished any day and the family asked us to come again.

Since no archeological remains are visible at the site and also according to family testimonies excavations made at the site revealed no remains, we made preliminary inquiries: we spoke with "Emek Shaveh", well acquainted with the new trend of demolition based on archeological claims and have written about it on their website. Archaeologist Yoni Mizrahi and researcher Mohand Anati agreed to come and inspect the site and write an opinion, and asked that we talk to the lawyer and the family and get their their consent.

We visited at 8 in the morning. We have already written that the family is very pleasant. M., the eldest son of A.I., presents the new situation fluently. We looked again at the two ancient cisterns in the area and met the family members who woke up one after the other. It turned out they had another lawyer besides St. Yves, someone who had known their case for years, and he advised them to file an appeal to the Supreme Court in a few days, contrary to St. Eve's advice to wait a few months.

We spoke with attorney Emil Mashraki of St. Yves. We understood from him what the postponement he recommended meant: he believes that time allotted to demolish the house being built has passed (according to his claim 170 days) and now the house should be finished soon and inhabited and then if needed a new application has to be submitted to delay the demolition with the archaeological opinion. He explained that these were not specific archeological remains at the site, but that the entire extensive Herodium area had been declared an archeological site and the family home was on the declared border (Herodium was very far from the M. family home - by the same logic all al-Khader and possibly Beit Jala should have been destroyed. And of course also some settlements).

He said that if the matter is now referred to the Supreme Court, the house must not be touched and no progress made in its construction, thus making it easier to destroy. We passed the information to M. By the way, this is in line with the settlers' aspiration to connect the historic Gush Etzion with the Nokdim and Tekoa bloc near Herodium, thus creating a huge new Gush Etzion bloc with several Palestinian enclaves.