U.S. Congresswoman Demands Protection for Palestinian Village of Susiya

Posted by Nicole Khamis on July 20, 2015 in Blog

susiya_copy.jpgAmong the golden rolling hills of the West Bank, a small Palestinian village, Susiya, is nestled in South Hebron. The residents of Susiya village, which is located in Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank, is currently is home to 320 residents who live in makeshift tents and in extreme poverty, without adequate infrastructure for electricity, water, and transportation. Written records indicate Palestinian inhabitants living in Susiya since the 1830’s, but now the village’s residents are fighting to remain on their land.

One of the most beautiful places in Palestine, the violence that accompanies the land of Susiya is anything but. The continuous - and illegal - Israeli occupation of the West Bank has made the lives of the residents unbearable. Susiya inhabitants have been subject to three expulsions, violent arrests and beatings without warning, settler violence, threats, incursions, and property damage. After the last expulsion in 2001, the inhabitants are now residing between the Jewish settlements of Susiya, built in 1983, and a so-called Israeli “archeological site” established in 1986. Because Palestinians are viewed by settlers and the Israeli Defense Forces as intruders on their own land and ironically a security risk to settlers, the Israel High Court approved a petition for the demolition of Susiya on May 5, 2015.

On July 12, during the holy month of Ramadan, Israel’s senior policy maker for the Occupied Territories, Major General Yoav Mordechai, met with the villagers to announce that the demolition  would the carried out after Eid al-Fitr. All 80 of the village’s buildings are scheduled for demolition. The official reason for demolition given by the Israeli goverment is that the buildings were built without permits. However, for Palestinians in the West Bank, obtaining a building permit from Israeli authorities is near impossible-forcing many to build without one. This practice of denying Palestinians housing permits is a widely recognized tool for Israel to continue justifying home demolitions to make way for settlements.

The continued illegal land grabs and settlement building committed by Israel is not going unnoticed. State Department spokesperson John Kirby has said that the demolition of Susiya committed by Israel would be “harmful and provocative.” Members of congress are standing by the Palestinian villagers as well. Congresswomen Anne Eshoo (D, CA-18) along with 8 of her colleagues, has submitted a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, demanding “immediate action to prevent the demolition of the Palestinian village of Susiya and prevent the continuing demolition of Palestinian neighborhoods,” which has already been signed by other members of congress. Demolition could happen as soon as this week, but Israel may be holding off because of the mounting pressure being contributed by the already cracked U.S-Israel relationship. What is clear is that Israel’s façade of baseless justification for its unjust policies are fading-and more are seeing the truth.