State doubles number of buildings slated for immediate demolition in Susya
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State doubles number of buildings slated for immediate demolition in Susya

Among structures to be razed is the Palestinian village's school and its solar panels, NGO says

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Palestinian residents of Sussiya demonstrate against court ruling allowing the demolition of the village located in the southeast of Hebron on June 22, 2012. (Photo credit: CC BY-SA Mr. Kate, Wikimedia Commons)
Palestinian residents of Sussiya demonstrate against court ruling allowing the demolition of the village located in the southeast of Hebron on June 22, 2012. (Photo credit: CC BY-SA Mr. Kate, Wikimedia Commons)

The State’s Attorney’s office has doubled the number of structures it has slated for immediate demolition in a flashpoint Palestinian village in the southern West Bank that has gained international attention,

The village, Khirbet Susya, could now quickly lose its only school, solar panels that are its only source of electricity and are built with European Union funds, and residential homes, according to Haqel, a human rights NGO representing the village, which is home to some 300 people.

In a letter to the High Court of Justice sent on Monday, the state said it was adding more structures to a list of buildings slated for immediate demolition.

The state argued that a list submitted in September 2016 of structures that had been built in violation of court rulings in 2012 and 2014 was not “exhaustive,” and therefore it would immediately add overa dozen more.

This updated list increases from 20 to 40 percent the portion of the village under threat of immediate demolition, according to Haqel.

A tent in the village of Susya, July 19, 2015 (Elhanan Miller/Times of Israel)

The state said in its letter to the court that it would allow the village’s legal defenders a chance to respond to the new additions to the list and argue why they should not be slated for immediate demolition.

Quamar Mishirqi-Assad, the lawyer representing the village southeast of Hebron, told The Times of Israel she is currently going over the history of the structures in question.

She believes the structures won’t be demolished until she’s had a chance to respond.

“The state’s notification means the immediate devastation of the village of Susya and the fabric of life there, thus creating a grave humanitarian disaster and causing the mortal and irreversible violation of the basic rights of the residents of the village, half of whom are children,” Mishirqi-Assad wrote in a statement to the press.

Susya has been torn down before and its homes are mainly tents, caves and makeshift structures.

Throughout the nineties, the IDF carried out small-scale demolitions in Susya, claiming all residential structures on the land were built illegally.

In July 2001, the entire village was destroyed a day after the murder of Yair Har Sinai, a shepherd from a nearby Jewish settlement also called Susya.

The current pressure on the state to demolish the restored Palestinian village of Susya has been led by the settlement, which is located near an ancient archaeological site from which both villages take their name.

Jewish Susya has teamed up with the right-wing legal rights group Regavim, which specializes in land disputes.

They accuse residents of Palestinian Susya of being illegal squatters.

Palestinians try to retrieve items from the rubble of a house after it was destroyed by IDF tractors in the West Bank village of Yatta near Hebron in 2011. (photo credit: Najeh Hashlamoun/Flash90)
Palestinians try to retrieve items from the rubble of a house after it was destroyed by IDF tractors near the West Bank village of Susya in 2011. (Najeh Hashlamoun/Flash90)

The United States, European countries and the United Nations have urged Israel not to move ahead with the demolition.

Representatives of Susya offered a master plan for building the village, which was constructed without permits, but the plan was rejected by the state.

The entire village is slated for demolition in the future.

Currently, Haqel is petitioning the rejection of the proposed master plan.

At the end of November, leading US Democratic senators, including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Dianne Feinstein, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging him to instruct his government to accept the Susya master plan.

The town’s residents argue that they had no choice but to build illegally because the Civil Administration rarely grants permits to Palestinians in the West Bank’s Area C, a zone officially controlled by the Israel Defense Forces as per the 1993 Oslo peace accords

Residents of Susya live mainly on farmland. They were expelled 30 years ago from the village’s original location.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report. 

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