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IDF maps village of Susya as forced displacement looms

The IDF’s Civil Administration prepares for the evacuation of the West Bank village in the wake of a High Court decision to uphold the rejection a zoning plan.

A Civil Administration inspector accompanied by soldiers arrived Sunday morning in Susya to take photos and measurements of village structures, further stoking fears among its Palestinian residents that they will be expelled from their homes at any moment.

Nasser Nawajeh, a resident, longtime activist and volunteer with B’Tselem, took the following photo of the official, who goes by the name Carlos.

Civil Administration inspector in Susya ahead  of feared demolition (photo: Nasser Nawaj'a, B'Tselem)

Civil Administration inspector in Susya ahead of prospective demolition (photo: Nasser Nawaj’a, B’Tselem)

Israel’s High Court of Justice on Tuesday gave the army a green light to demolish the Palestinian village and forcibly transfer its residents out of Area C of the West Bank. The court refused to issue an injunction that would freeze any demolitions in the south Hebron Hills village before the village’s case is even heard and ruled on by the highest court of the land.

 Justice Noam Solberg rejected the injunction requested by the residents of Khirbet Susya, who are represented by Rabbis for Human Rights. The case is a petition against the IDF’s Civil Administration’s decision to reject a master plan submitted by the village, and against the Israeli army’s plans to demolish the village and forcibly relocate its residents out of Area C. The Israeli army can now destroy the village at any moment, even though the case has yet to be heard by the High Court; a date for hearing has not even been set.

The Israeli army has issued repeated demolition orders in the village on the basis of illegal construction and zoning. The only reason Palestinians in the south Hebron Hills build illegally, however, is because Israeli authorities have never granted them building permits or any planning rights. The Israeli army rejects 90 percent of Palestinian planning requests in Area C, and most villages in the area face almost identical restrictions and demolition threats. Settlements for Jewish Israelis, however, continuously pop up in the area, including an adjacent settlement that also named itself Susya.

The 340 residents of Khirbet Susya have for years been fighting in court for the right to stay on their land. Susya is located in the south Hebron Hills, in Area C of the West Bank, which according to the Oslo Accords is under full Israeli control. Its residents were first expelled from their lands in 1986 after the Jewish settlement of Susya was established and an archaeological site built on its former location. The Palestinian villagers then moved the village to their adjacent agricultural lands and have been fighting to subsist there ever since.

In the petition, Susya’s residents argue that the army is obliged to legalize their village because it confiscated their land and their caves in 1986, leaving them without any housing solution and forcing them to move to their adjacent agricultural lands.susya's women's photograph project (photo: Activestills)As evidence to the life in the village prior to the expropriation, various testimonials and photographs of life in caves were presented to the judge. Among other things, there were documented photos of a visit by U.S. consular officials to the village in early 1986, proving that the Palestinians lived there before the Israeli army declared it an archeological site. Other photos and evidence proved that the Susya is an old village that predates Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Rabbis for Human Rights said. Several years ago, Nawajeh wrote in +972:


They call my village an illegal Palestinian outpost. But these have been our lands since before the establishment of the State of Israel. My father is older than your state and I am not legal on my own land? I ask you: where is the justice in that? 

“Behind the Israeli authorities’ behavior is the aspiration, declared by Israeli officials at various times, to control these areas in order to facilitate circumstances that would allow their annexation in a peace agreement, and until then, de facto annexation,” B’Tselem wrote in a response to the court ruling.

“The Israeli authorities’ policy contradicts its obligation to meet the needs of the residents of the occupied territories and constitutes a grave violation of international humanitarian law, which prohibits their forced transfer,” the B’Tselem statement added.

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    1. Pedro X

      Is the censor in session?

      Reply to Comment
    2. New Relic

      We Westerners are reminded of the sins of “our” past every day. We get this education from grade school to college and university ad nauseum.
      But when are Muslims going to get a history lesson of their barbarity including the African slave trade, colonization, sexual slavery, genocide, coups, conquests, dhimmification, occupation, etc? Somehow Muslims don’t get this knowledge because growing up, it’s the Kuffar that are eternally evil and incapable of doing good. They are “the worst of creation” as allah puts it. Therefore, everything bad comes from the unbelievers since Muslims can never do wrong as they are “the greatest of all nations” and “the best creation” of allah according to the Quran.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Ben

      This, by Amira Hass, will debunk the truckloads of hasbara BS being dumped as comments on this site about Susya. And educate you about the role of the Supreme Court and the “rule of law” in these matters. Hass (like Breaking the Silence) has enormous first hand experience on the ground, she has great credibility and authenticity and integrity. And therefore the right loathes her. But she’s there and she knows what’s really going on. If you have access, read it. I’ve included only the concluding paragraph here. The article is rich with convincing detail.

      Israeli colonialism, plain and simple
      In two court decisions involving shoving Palestinians off their land, Supreme Court justices have confirmed what Israel’s critics are saying: that Israel has been a colonialist entity since 1948.


      “…In the justices’ consent to the demolition of Sussia and Umm al-Hiran, they have drawn a direct line linking 1948 to today. They have confirmed what Israel’s most virulent critics say about the country – that it is a colonialist, dispossessing entity. The justices have parroted what the state has been screaming all along: It’s my right to dispossess, my right to expel, my right to demolish and crowd people into pens. I have demolished and will continue to do so. I have expelled and will continue to expel. I have crowded people in and will continue to do so. I never gave a damn and never will do.”

      Reply to Comment
      • BigCat

        Riiiight! When the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Palestinians as it has done on numerous occasions, Amira Haas & Co. cheer. When the Court rules against unfounded claims of the Palestinians, Amira Haas & Co. smear and ridicule the Court and get empty minded sycophants like Brian…eh….”Ben” all excited, emotional and sentimental. Why are you so obsessed with Jews and Israel, Brian, instead of finding a job, not depending on government hand-outs to survive, paying your bills with the money you earned yourself and caring about what goes on in your own country first before worrying about Jews and Israel that you are in no way shape or form connected to? This irrational obsession with Jews is an illness, Brian. Seek professional help, you compulsive obsessive moron!

        Reply to Comment
    4. Pedro X

      Time to check with an expert

      “A check with the researcher and Jerusalem Post journalist Dr. Seth J. Frantzman, co-author of “Bedouin Settlement in Late Ottoman and British Mandatory Palestine: Influence on the Cultural and Environmental Landscape, 1870-1948 was made in order to ascertain what the Ottoman and British records show about Susya.

      Dr. Frantzman carried out his Ph.D. research at the Hebrew University, using Israel State Archives and the map archives of the Hebrew University and National Library as well as at the aerial photo archive of the Hebrew University’s Geography department,on the foundation, expansion and development of Arab villages in the 19th and early 20th century, tracing how some villages expanded and gave birth to “daughter villages”

      Dr. Frantzman notes that, in his research, he did not come across any village, hamlet or settlement at Susya.

      He did identify several other villages that were founded in the 1940s, which Professor David Grossman of the Department of Geography at Bar Ilan Unversity has also written about.

      For example, the village Rahiya, near Yatta, was founded in the late 19th century or early 20th century.

      Yet there is no evidence, however, from records examined at Ben Gurion University from the Ottoman Empire period or British mandate period, of any village or settlement ever existing at Susya.

      There are five documents attached:

      The Palestine Exploration Fund, which carried out a thorough and widely respected survey of the country from 1871-77 did not show any village or settlement in the area of Susya.

      Instead they noted only the ruins of ancient Susya, which was a Jewish town from the Temple period with a synagogue facing Jerusalem, ritual bath and other artifacts.

      Their map and memoirs both indicate only a ruin.

      Had there been a village it would have been indicated the way Samu was on the map.

      Later maps from the British Mandate period, from 1942 and 1948, show no village in the area of Susya, but once again show villages at Samu and Yatta.

      An aerial photo from 1945 does not show a village or even tents at the site.

      In short, the conclusion of Dr. Frantzman’s study is that there was no settlement at Susya, no village and no houses from the 19th century through 1948.”



      Now for the more recent history read this

      “Tzviki Bar-Hai, then head of the Har Hevron regional council, told Arutz Sheva in late 2013 that the Arab presence in Susya is very recent.

      “I was there in 1976, and aside from the synagogue that was built here in 1969, there wasn’t a living soul,” he recalled. “We were able to restart the archaeological digs in 1983, and then, too, there were no Palestinians around.”

      He noted how Arab farmers began to visit Susya for one or two nights at a time during certain parts of the year starting in 1986, revealing that those now claiming to be residents of Susya are actually from the nearby Arab town of Yatta.

      “In recent years a few Arab families from Yatta are trying to settle near ancient Susya and to argue that they were expelled from the village of Susiya – which never existed,” he said. “They are all from Yatta. They are supported by leftist activists, who come on weekends to help create the narrative of expulsion.”

      Reply to Comment
    5. Joanne O'Brie n

      Such cruelty and wanton injustice is being visited on the people of Susya

      Reply to Comment
    6. Ben

      David Shulman:

      “Susya is a microcosm of the Israeli occupation, a lucid embodiment of its norms and habits. Only the scale of the planned expulsion is a little unusual; normally the process, though relentless, proceeds in smaller steps. Note that the legal aspect of the situation, which I’ve only outlined, is little more than a superstructure, one might even say a distant theory; on the ground what one sees is a refined form of human malevolence, incapable of justification in rational terms. The Israeli army, the police, the bureaucrats of the Civil Administration, the government, the cabinet, the Knesset, the military and civilian courts, and large parts of the Israeli press—all are deeply implicated in an act, or a series of acts, of gratuitous violence inflicted on innocent human beings, in broad daylight. No one should pretend that any of this is anything but a crime.”


      Reply to Comment