Tuesday, November 24, 2020

No Respite for Susya

By PM collaborators - September 22, 2016
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [South Hebron Hills] [House Demolition]

The Palestinian village of Susya, in the South Hebron Hills, is still at risk of being erased from the map by Israel. This is despite an international campaign to save it last year. 
The most recent threat came after several Israeli MPs visited Susya on September 19, and some of the settlers accompanying them allegedly attacked local Palestinians.
On September 1, the Israeli defence minister Avigdor Liberman agreed to suspend the demolition of Susya, a measure ordered by the Israeli Supreme Court last year. The ruling declared that most of the structures in the village were built illegally and need to be demolished. 
But as the B’tselem NGO has reported, Israel habitually rejects requests by Palestinians for building permission. This is despite the fact that many of the structures are little more than tents and shacks. 
Liberman stated that: “we agreed to postpone a decision on Susya for three months,” adding that “there too we shall search for alternatives and solutions.” 
Liberman also pointed out that the small Jewish outpost of Amona, near Susya, was also slated for demolition due to separate Supreme Court ruling. But activists expect that while the Palestinians from Susya will be forced to leave the area, the Jews from Amona will be allowed to stay. Israeli officials have implied this previously. 
Talking to Ma’an News, Jihad al-Nawajaa, the head of Susya council, said that the visit of the right-wing Likud MPs was a “bad omen.” And while Liberman claimed that he wanted to find “solutions” for the residents of Susya, he has previously stated that the village should demolished. 
As recently as June 2016, Israeli troops destroyed two houses in the village that left four Palestinians injured and twenty-six homeless. These last demolitions occurred during the Holy month of Ramadan, despite Israeli assurances to the contrary. 
In June 2015, a coalition of activists, NGOs, and diplomats rallied to defend Susya from further demolitions, turning the hamlet into a cause celebre for Palestinians. This was done under the auspices of the 'Save Susya’ campaign.
As Palestine Monitor reported at the time, John Gatt-Rutter, the EU’s representative in Jerusalem noted that Susya has “become a by-word for a policy that has deprived Palestinians of their land and resources.”
Although these latest threats to Susya have not received the kind of international attention as the 2015 campaign, in August the United States threatened a “severe reaction” if Israel proceeded with plans to demolish the village. 
But, at the start of this month, the US signed a deal promising Israel $38 billion in military aid over the next decade. 
Speaking to Al-Monitor, the Israeli activist Rabbi Arik Ascherman stated that: “With all due respect to efforts of the human rights legalists and a battery of legal advisers from all the other organizations, there is no doubt that the reason that Susya is still standing today is international pressure, headed by the United States.” 
Now that the US has authorised the aid package, and lost this potential leverage over Israel, the future of Susya is even more uncertain.
The village first came to prominence in 1986, when the ruins of an ancient Jewish settlement were discovered nearby. Israel designated the area an archaeological site and evicted many of the Palestinians in the area. An illegal Jewish settlement was also built there. 
Despite attempts to rebuild their homes, the residents of Susya have faced long-term harassment from the local settlers, and the Israeli military. Large scale demolitions of Palestinian houses in Susya occurred in 2001 and 2011. 


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