In the case of Khan al-Ahmar, the threat of demolition serves yet another goal, that of expanding settlements. The Bedouin village is situated in an area Israel has designated as ‘E1’, the largest planned settlement in the West Bank. With the Bedouins removed, Israel can control the entire centre part of the West Bank, from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, and could cut the territory in half, denying Palestinians the possibility to travel from north to south or vice versa.
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Cultural heritage can strengthen communities and their ties to the land they live on. The researchers repeatedly talked about putting their villages on the map, and making them part of a wider Bedouin community which extends through both time (to previous and future generations) and space. They have become visible to local, national and international audiences. Cultural heritage, and the actions taken to protect it, become a resource both to encourage equality and to share a different vision of what life could be in these embattled communities.
Some of the Bedouin children will be forced to live in a semi-urban environment next to a garbage dump, without their animals, in what the American social anthropologist Dawn Chatty has dubbed ‘cultural genocide’. Godfrey-Goldstein: “There’s no way they can maintain their traditional lifestyle over there. The Bedouins can’t graze their animals. So they are less sustainable. Their children are being urbanized. In essence, they won’t be Bedouins anymore. All the herbal knowledge is vanishing, the ability to track. They’re no longer out there. Dawn Chatty has said this is the worst case of forcible displacement she has witnessed in 30 years.”
Hamas’ willingness to endorse and actively promote the so-called “Great March of Return” campaign, suggests that it might be shifting its tactics away from relying upon violence. If Hamas can continue to mobilize tens of thousands of Palestinians to protest against Israel on a weekly basis, then it can ensure that the blockade of Gaza receives much more attention in international media and is placed higher on the diplomatic agenda of the international community. However, Mass demonstrations and marches by Palestinians are a public relations nightmare for Israel.
It seems clear that the momentum that has been building will be difficult to stop. However, it remains to be seen what the final impact of the protests will be, and whether organizers will succeed in harnessing the anger into non-violent resistance or whether it will escalate once again into armed conflict.
If the Trump administration follows through on its threats, it could mean the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from the United States (US) that goes to education, health care and food aid for Palestinian refugees via the United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) which is already on shaky financial ground.
The balancing act that Hamas and Fatah are now forced to play requires some external pressure, and it appears that the Egyptians are willing to apply this pressure, especially against Hamas. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is able to exert similar pressure on the PLO, mostly by means of its financial support to the Palestinian government.