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Hundreds protest plan to demolish entire Palestinian village

Over 500 Israelis and Palestinians from near and far gathered in Susya (southern West Bank) on Friday to protest plans by Israeli authorities to demolish the Palestinian village in its entirety. Despite being a peaceful and nonviolent demonstration, the army fired stun grenades, tear gas, and threatened to use “skunk” water. One protestor was injured in the head by a stun grenade and required stitches.

Protestors confronted by IDF in Susya (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills)

Susya – located in Area C of the West Bank under full Israeli control – is under threat of destruction, following the June 7 interim injunction by the High Court of Justice to stop construction in the village, and subsequent Civil Administration orders for the 52 structures that comprise it. (Read more about Susya here.)

Palestinian and Israeli protestors attempted to walk to the archeological site developed by Israel in Susya, from which the Palestinian residents were originally expelled in 1986 after Israeli archeologists found the remnants of a synagogue. The army quickly announced that it was an illegal protest and demanded we turn back and go home. They used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse the crowds, resulting in one injury. The army also had truck on hand to fire “skunk” water, which they threatened to use but ultimately did not. There were no arrests.

The relatively large turnout of support for the tiny Palestinian village was the result of successful coordination between Palestinian individuals and committees from all over the West Bank, including Ma’asara, Hebron, Beit Jala, Bethlehem and Bil’in. Abdullah Abu Rahmah, leader of the grassroots unarmed Palestinian resistance movement against Israel’s security barrier in Bil’in attended Friday’s protest.  Several Israeli anti-occupation activist groups – among them Ta’ayush, Combatants for Peace, Solidarity Sheikh Jarrah and Rabbis for Human Rights – organized six buses from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem bringing some 300 Israeli protestors.

Tear gas in Susya (photo: Mairav Zonszein)

Women confronted by soldiers (photo: Mairav Zonszein)

Abdullah Abu Rahmah in Susya (photo: Mairav Zonszein)

IDF blocks protesters from moving (photo: Oren Ziv/activestills)


Call to action: Protest the demolition of entire Palestinian village
Palestinian from Area C describes a life in constant need of rebuilding
South Hebron Hills: A military regime for none or for all


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    1. Jack

      “According to Human Rights Watch, apart from Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Israel has been the only country in the world resorting to house demolutions as a form of punishment”
      (Beyond Chutzpah: On misuse of anti-semitism and the abuse of history – Norman Finkelstein).

      Reply to Comment
    2. Kolumn9

      I should point out that the protest sought out confrontation by marching on an Israeli archaeological site.

      500 total – 300 Israelis = 200 Palestinians. Let’s presume there are 100 Palestinians that reside in this ‘village’. So, the great success of this protest is in its ability to bring an additional 100 Palestinians to protest? It really doesn’t seem like the Palestinians care.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Cormac

      @ Kolumn9 , have you ever tried to get around in the west bank ? Some days its almost impossible to get from your own house to your neighbours a few streets away. The IDF will hardly allow thousands of Palestinians to wander freely from all over their own country to attend a protest.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Noa

      KOLUMN9: It rather seems that MAY BE palestinians are not SO free to move like you percieve your freedom of movement… what do you think?

      Anything that is against this ridiculous occupation is “seeking for confrontation”.

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    5. Rafael

      I should point out that the dispossession of the village amounts by itself to a provocation by implying the dispossession of 100 Palestinians.
      “Despite being a peaceful and nonviolent demonstration, the army fired stun grenades, tear gas, and threatened to use “skunk” water.”
      Imagine if thy were all Palestinians. Would we see targeted assassionations of protest leaders of the sort that provoked the two intifadas?

      Reply to Comment
    6. K9: “I should point out that the protest sought out confrontation by marching on an Israeli archaeological site.”
      Classic State control through definition. Only the Stae’s definitions are real. When an independent judiciary exists, this need not be so. According to another post on this topic, some 350 may live in the soon to be expunged village. By asserting “an Israeli archeological site,” you silence all other life there. Classic State control.
      Take joy, K9: there will be many more such ineffectual protests. Then they won’t be ineffectual anymore.
      Good battle to you.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Kolumn9

      @Cormac, @Noa, very funny. Palestinians couldn’t get from Yatta (50K population) or Samu’a (20K population) to Susya. As the story points out a guy made it from Bil’in. Tell me another joke.

      @Rafael, they would have met the same treatment as this group.

      @Greg, there is no ‘village’, just a few shacks illegally thrown up. Left-wing protests are funny things. When they fail to get results they get smaller as people get bored and move on to the next shiny thing. Palestinian protests are even funnier, especially where the Palestinians are outnumbered by the Israelis and Westerners. It is hilarious to me that the pronounced threat of a scary new Palestinian strategy is made as a result of a demonstration where the non-Palestinians outnumbered the Palestinians.

      Reply to Comment
    8. AYLA

      I was there, and since I was really not in the mood to be skunk sprayed (it never happened, but the metal hose from the army tank kept moving around, aimed at us), I hung back a lot of the time, feeling in solidarity enough without being up front. As a result, my perspective is more long range. From where I was sitting, it was such a sweet protest! After the stun grenades fired (thanks–hadn’t known *what* those were–sounded like gun fire), there didn’t seem to be much trouble but a constant threat from the tank I described. In fact, it seemed like the army was on best behavior, and someone in the know told me that this was because of all the bad press they’ve gotten from their violent responses at recent demonstrations. There were some protestors dressed as clowns, and I found them to be pretty scary, but that’s just me. I hope the kids of Susya liked them; there were lots of kids out.
      Which brings me to what made the protest so sweet. I went with two car loads of Israeli friends from the south, and we were talking to people from Susya the whole time; it really felt like we were not only protesting side by side, but together. My friends have either volunteered in Susya or have friends who have, bringing solar panels, working in agriculture, bringing biogas systems (so cool), so after the busses left we hung out for a while, which was really nice. Spirits there were high for the day; they really felt good about the turn-out and support. Of course, that good feeling was contagious.
      At a certain point when I was kind of over protesting, I made it my goal to find 972 journalists I’d never met, and succeeded in meeting Yossi, Haggai, and guest reporter Yaniv M., so I was able to thank them in person for the wonderful work they do, and feel like my online life is a bit less imaginary. That, for me, was fun! As a fiction writer, I have plenty of imaginary life already; it’s nice for this element of my life to become more real. Mairav–sorry I missed you, this time.
      On the way home, we got as far south as Yeruham and it started to pour rain. Please understand, it is officially summer, now. It does not rain in late June in the Negev. We decided to go into the Machtesh Gadol to watch it from above, but the streets were closed from flooding! Mice, dogs, some Bedouin families and my friends and I just stood around this flooded road, and one of the older Bedouin men kept telling us to move our car further back, showing us what was going to happen next. He was right. It was Friday afternoon, and we said goodbye them and headed further south, home, where we found our whole community swimming in the flowing river in the Zin Wadi, many of them covered in mud.
      A bit of relief, all around, from a tough week, here.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Rafael

      As for the archaeological site colon9 mentions, it was populated by Palestinians before being declared declared a Jewish archaelogical. No doubt part of the Israeli strategy to dispossess and uproot Palestinians.
      I’m looking forward for Iran to declare locations of Jewish neighborhoods on its soil as Islamic or Persian archaeological sites. We’ll see what colon9 will have to say then.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Kolumn9

      @Rafael, No doubt that synagogue at Susya was planted 1500 years ago as part of a nefarious plot by settlers to dispossess the Palestinians. Let’s call it an ancient price tag attack on the dignity of the ancient Palestinian people. Was a time machine involved in this scheme? Crafty bastards.

      I am sure you are looking forward to Iran doing many other things. Feel free to list out your top ten.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Kolumn9, there are three hundred and fifty people living in Susya village. The figure in the article refers to the number of protestors who came from outside (some of the Palestinians travelling in cars with Israeli licence plates to enable them to use Israeli-only roads and minimise their risk of being stopped by the army).
      As someone has already tried to explain to you, Palestinians don’t have the same freedom of movement as Israelis. Being in close proximity to Susya does not mean that it will be easy to get there. The South Hebron hills are full of troops, flying checkpoints, and roadblocks. It is routine to be turned back arbitrarily. It doesn’t matter whether you are six yards from your house or sixty miles, it is not easy to move. (Before now I’ve had trouble going from Susya to Umm al-Khair, which is basically just on the other side of the hill.) This has the added effect of making people jumpy. At Christmas we had a series of youth events in Bethlehem for Christian children in the surrounding region, many of whom had never set foot in Bethlehem in their entire lives despite its proximity. It’s pretty rare for people to travel far from home. They are wary of the army and what the army can do to them – and this is never more apparent than at protests. My elderly neighbour’s son was placed on the permit blacklist because he happened to cross the street where a demonstration was taking place, with the result that my neighbour herself was cautious about joining in with our women’s groups. She thought the army might class them as political and then she would lose her Jerusalem access too. People often don’t want to lose anything more than they already have, and they don’t see that protest changes anything – there is a lot of apathetic acceptance that this is the way things are, and that there is nothing they or anyone can do to change it. Welcome to military occupation, where you have a constant fight to remember that your life is in fact your own.
      As for the ancient synagogue in Susya…there are Norman ruins not far from my house in England. I hope that the modern-day French aren’t going to come and put in a claim. I daresay I won’t get much sympathy from you if they turn up at my house with a bulldozer.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Yochanan

      @Kolumn, as regards ‘shacks illegally thrown up’, how do you propose Palestinians continue to live in Area C, when by Israel’s admission 94% of non-Jewish building applications are rejected? (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/15/israelandthepalestinians) Or perhaps you’d propose that they not continue to live in Area C…

      And how is this an Israeli archaeological site when its on Palestinian territory? Surely, if anything, it’s a Palestinian archaeological site with remnants of an ancient Palestinian Jewish structure?

      Reply to Comment
    13. @Yocahnan seems spot on.

      Another way of looking at it is to ask why Christians and Moslems can’t point to ancient archaeological sites in Israel (perhaps early churches or mosques) and demand that modern-day Jewish inhabitants living above the ruins are dispossessed.

      The answers would seem to be all of:
      (a) power, coming from the barrel of Israeli guns
      (b) racism (Jewish history is scared and takes precedence over the human rights of all non-Jews, everyone else’s history is inferior or invalid)
      (c) any excuse to grab more land from Palestinians will do.

      If the defenders of this sort of nonsense can think of another explanation, which would be morally accepted by decent people with no involvement in the area, let’s hear it.

      Over to you, @kolumn9 and friends

      Reply to Comment
    14. Philos

      Kolumn9 suffers from a spiritual malady that prevents him from empathizing with people he disagrees with. There is no point arguing with him (or her) because his heart has been hardened. He knows that a ruin ought not take precedence over the lives of present day human beings (who in all likelihood might be the descendants of the people of that ruin because until very recently 95% of humanity was buried with 5 miles where they were born), and he knows that the military rule over the Palestinians is immoral. However, unlike his detractors, Kolumn9 must constantly renew the his suspension of disbelief and the suppression of empathy. This is an exhausting and ultimately deleterious exercise for any person to engage in.

      Reply to Comment
    15. AYLA

      Hey 972, I’m happy to see someone got a shot of someone sporting the kafia baseball hat. That was the first I’d seen of those; pretty impressive :).

      Reply to Comment
    16. Rafael

      “@Rafael, they would have met the same treatment as this group.”
      You have no way to know this, colon9.
      Israel has in the past targeted for assassination Palestinian protest leaders. This is what ultimately led to the intifadas. Why would things today be anything different?

      Reply to Comment
    17. Jessica

      I suppose that Kolumn9 wouldn’t care if an army came to his/her home and destroyed both his/her town, his/her home, and all that s/he’s ever known for absolutely no reason at all.

      S/He thinks it’s ‘funny’ because it’s happening to Palestinians. Would K9 think the same if it happened to him/her?

      Reply to Comment
    18. Arib

      This is a simple case of people building illegally on land that is not theirs. The Israeli Supreme Court, who you were all applauding only a couple of weeks ago when it ruled that Jews need to be dispossessed, now rules on a case where Arabs are involved and it is called racism, a land grab etc. What a joke!!

      Reply to Comment
    19. Yochanan

      @Arib, according to the world’s ‘supreme court’, the ICJ, all of the West Bank is not Israeli territory and Israel has no jurisdiction over it. Any Israeli construction is therefore illegal without the permission of the Palestinian owners of the land, and any Israeli demolition of property in the area is similarly illegal.

      Reply to Comment
    20. […] Zonszein has written a more  detailed article on the situation in Susya, and a report on the protest. Posted on June 23, 2012 by Tali. This entry was posted in Activism, Military and […]

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