Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Date: Wednesday, September 26 @ 02:37:05 UTC
By Ramzy Baroud
September 26, 2018
vultures, Israeli soldiers descended on Khan Al-Ahmar, on Sep. 14, recreating a
menacing scene with which the residents of this small Palestinian village,
located East of Jerusalem, are all-too familiar.
strategic location of Khan Al-Ahmar makes the story behind the imminent Israeli
demolition of the peaceful village unique amid the ongoing destruction of
Palestinian homes and lives throughout besieged Gaza and Occupied West Bank.
the years, Khan Al-Ahmar, once part of an uninterrupted Palestinian physical
landscape has grown increasingly isolated. Decades of Israeli colonization of
East Jerusalem and the West Bank left Khan Al-Ahmar trapped between massive and
vastly expanding Israeli colonial projects: Ma'ale Adumim, Kfar Adumim among
unfortunate village, its adjacent school and 173 residents are the last
obstacle facing the E1 Zone project, an Israeli plan that aims to link illegal
Jewish colonies in Occupied East Jerusalem with West Jerusalem, thus cutting
off East Jerusalem completely from its Palestinian environs in the West Bank.
the Neqab (Negev) village of Al-Araqib, which has been demolished by Israel and
rebuilt by its residents 133 times, Khan Al-Ahmar residents are facing armed
soldiers and military bulldozers with their bare chests and whatever local and
international solidarity they are able to obtain.
the particular circumstances and unique historical context of Khan Al-Ahmar,
however, the story of this village is but a chapter in a protracted narrative
of a tragedy that has extended over the course of seventy years.
would be a mistake to discuss the destruction of Khan Al-Ahmar, or any other
Palestinian village outside the larger context of demolition that has stood at
the heart of Israel’s particular breed of settler colonialism.
is true that other colonial powers used destruction of homes and properties,
and the exile of whole communities as a tactic to subdue rebellious
populations. The British Mandate government in Palestine used the demolition of
homes as a ‘deterrence’ tactic against Palestinians who dared rebel against
injustice throughout the 1920s, 30s and 40s, till Israel took over in 1948.
the Israeli strategy is far more convoluted than a mere ‘deterrence’. It is now
carved in the Israeli psyche that Palestine must be completely destroyed in
order for Israel to exist. Therefore, Israel is engaging in a seemingly endless
campaign of erasing everything Palestinian, because the latter, from an Israeli
viewpoint represents an existential threat to the former.
is precisely why Israel sees the natural demographic growth among Palestinians
as an ‘existential threat’ to Israel’s ‘Jewish identity’.
can only be justified with an irrational degree of hate and fear that has
accumulated throughout generations to the point that it now forms a collective
Israeli psychosis for which Palestinians continue to pay a heavy price.
repeated destruction of Gaza is symptomatic of this Israeli psychosis.
is a “country that when you fire on its citizens it responds by going wild -
and this is a good thing,” was the official explanation offered by Tzipi
Livni, the Israeli foreign minister in January 2009 to justify its country’s
war on the blockaded Gaza Strip. The Israel ‘going wild’ strategy has led to
the destruction of 22,000 homes, schools and other
facilities during one of Israel’s deadliest wars on the Strip.
few years later, in the summer of 2014, Israel went
‘wild’ again, leading to an even greater destruction and loss of lives.
Israel’s mass demolition of Palestinian
homes in Gaza, and everywhere else, preceded Hamas by decades. In fact, it has
nothing to do with the method of resistance that Palestinians utilize in their
struggle against Israel. Israel’s demolishing of Palestine - whether the actual
physical structures or the idea, history, narrative, and even street names - is
an Israeli decision through and through.
quick scan of historical facts demonstrates that Israel demolished Palestinian
homes and communities in diverse political and historical contexts, where
Israel’s ‘security’ was not in the least a factor.
600 Palestinian towns, villages and localities were destroyed between 1947 and
1948, and nearly 800,000 Palestinians were exiled to make room for the
establishment of Israel.
to the Land Research Center (LRC),
Israel had destroyed 5,000 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem alone since it
occupied the city in 1967, leading to the permanent exile of nearly 70,000
people. Coupled with the fact that nearly 200,000 Jerusalemites were driven out
during the Nakba, the Catastrophe’ of 1948, and the ongoing slow ethnic cleansing,
the Holy City has been in a constant state of destruction since the
establishment of Israel.
fact, between 2000 and 2017, over 1,700 Palestinian homes were demolished, displacing nearly
10,000 people. This is not a policy of ‘deterrence’ but of erasure - the
eradication of the very Palestinian culture.
and Jerusalem are not unique examples either. According to the Israeli Committee
against House Demolitions (ICAHD’s) report last December, since 1967 “nearly
50,000 Palestinian homes and structures have been demolished – displacing
hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and affecting the livelihoods of
thousands of others.”
Combined with the destruction of Palestinian villages upon
the establishment of Israel, and the demolition of Palestinian homes inside
Israel itself, ICAHD puts the total number of homes destroyed since 1948 at
more than 100,000.
In fact, as the group itself acknowledges, the figure above
is quite conservative. Indeed, it is. In Gaza alone, and in the last 10 years
which witnessed three major Israeli wars, nearly 50,000 homes and structures
were reportedly destroyed.
So why does Israel destroy with consistency, impunity and no
It is for the same reason that it passed laws to change historic street names from
Arabic to Hebrew. For the same reason it recently passed the racist Nation-state law,
elevating everything Jewish and completely ignoring and downgrading the
existence of the indigenous Palestinians, their language and their culture that
goes back millennia.
Israel demolishes, destroys and pulverizes because in the
racist mindset of Israeli rulers, there can be no room between the Sea and the
River but for Jews; where the Palestinians - oppressed, colonized and
dehumanized - don’t factor in the least in Israel’s ruthless calculations.
This is not just a question of Khan Al-Ahmar. It is a
question of the very survival of the Palestinian people, threatened by a racist
state that has been allowed to ‘go wild’ for 70 years, untamed and without
Ramzy Baroud, Ph.D, University of Exeter, UK. Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for International Studies, UCSB.
Learn about his latest book: The Last Earth (Pluto Press, London)