While all eyes are on the crisis in
the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians who live in Susya, in the hills
to the south of Hebron, are in imminent danger of being expelled
from their homes. They are surely not the only ones who might
be evicted from their ancestral lands in the upcoming months
— the inhabitants of the small village Nuaman just south of
Jerusalem, for example, are also under imminent threat — but
they are among the most vulnerable people living under Israeli
military rule in the West Bank.
The inhabitants of Susya have already experienced the harsh sword
of expulsion. About two decades ago, over a dozen families were
driven from their homes so that Israel could establish an archaeological
park on their land. Shortly before their expulsion, a Jewish
settlement, also called Susya, was set up nearby also on lands
taken from these same Palestinians. Several Palestinian families
were thus forced to leave the area, while those that remained
are presently living in ramshackle huts and tents on a small
rocky hill between the archaeological park and the Israeli settlement.
For years, however, they have been living in constant jeopardy.
The settlers and the soldiers regularly terrorize them, often
severely beating them, sometimes shooting at them, and preventing
them from accessing their fields or even the water wells they
depend on for survival in this arid region. Moreover, the so-called
Civil Administrationthat is, the Israeli occupation authorityhas,
in the past, issued demolition orders against all their modest
homes and dwellings.
It is quite amazing that even though some of Susya’s residents
have been expelled by the military and the settlers several times,
they have always managed to return to their lands. They continue
to eke out a frugal living from their herds of goats and sheep
and by farming the few fields that have been left to them.
For some years, these Palestinian residents alongside the joint
Israeli-Palestinian group Ta’ayush and international groups like
Christian Peacemaker Teams and Operation Dove have been waging
a political battle to keep the Palestinian residents of Susya
in their present homes. These struggles include petitions to
the Israeli courts. Unfortunately, a few days ago the Supreme
Court threw out an appeal against the demolition orders on technical,
bureaucratic grounds. Consequently, within a month the homes
of the Susya’s Palestinian residents can be legally demolished.
Those who know the reality in the territories know that it is
almost impossible for Palestinians to get building permits, and
casuistic arguments like those brought against our friends from
Susya are regularly used to further a policy of violent expulsion.
We are, however, continuing to fight this battle in the courts,
and we are in the process of submitting new applications for
permits. So long as we can keep the legal process alive, we gain
precious time. If we fail, Susya will be destroyedand with
it, perhaps, a series of other small Palestinian villages in
this area. The Palestinian inhabitants of Susya will become refugees.
The situation is dire, and the threat of expulsion immediate.
To fight it, we are incurring significant legal expenses. In
the short term we will need approximately $10,000 simply to defray
the lawyers’ costs. Ta’ayush is an organization of volunteers
and has no resources of its own. We call upon you to help us
to save an innocent civilian population that is about to fall
victim to the concerted effort of the Israeli authorities to
exile them from their lands and homes.
Contributions can be sent to Tali Schaefer, P. O. Box 250778,
New York, NY 10025. Checks should be made payable to Ta’ayush.
It is also possible to deposit
directly into the Ta’ayush account at Bank Hapoalim, Swift Code
POALILITA (Ramat Aviv Branch): 12-606-396608. Please note on
the check that the money is for South Hebron legal struggle and
send an email to Catherine Rottenberg firstname.lastname@example.org
indicating that you have sent a contribution. Every little bit