Stand with Susiya!
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From PC(USA) Mission Co-Worker in Bethlehem, Rev. Kate Taber:

New orders from the Israeli court say that after Ramadan, half the Palestinian village of Susiya will be demolished. Action is needed now!

The Palestinian village of Susiya lies south of the city of Hebron in what is known as the South Hebron Hills. Records of the village’s existence in this location go back to the 19th century. The landscape evokes thoughts of the biblical desert, and shepherds still roam the hills with their flocks, though today the view is interrupted by Israeli settlements and military outposts. About 55 nuclear families live in the village, made up mostly of tents.

In 1983, the Jewish settlement of Susiya was established nearby the Palestinian village, and soon after, Israel’s treatment of the village changed. Their land was expropriated for an archeological site in 1986, and all the residents were evicted. They relocated themselves several hundred meters away.

Most of those who relocated in 1986 found themselves on land that was later designated as Area C of the West Bank, where Israel maintains full control over planning and zoning. The residents were displaced two more times, in 2001 and 2011, on grounds of lack of building permits, notoriously difficult for Palestinians in Area C to obtain.

The villagers’ troubles go beyond demolitions. The villagers face such systematic intimidation and violence from the residents of the nearby settlement that they have lost access to two-thirds of their farming and grazing land. Settler violence has included destruction of Palestinian property; in 2014 alone, over 800 olive trees owned by the villagers were damaged. The village also lost access to water resources, and villagers now spend up to a third of their income on water at a rate five times more expensive than the nearby settlers pay, who are served by the water network.

Demolitions of the village were justified by the argument that the village’s structures were not part of the village’s master plan, which Israel never actually created. In 2012, with help from lawyers of Rabbis for Human Rights, the villagers submitted a master plan, with the hope that it would legitimize their presence. It was ultimately rejected. An appeal of that decision is set to be heard this upcoming August. In preparation for the appeal, villagers sought a judicial order that Israel temporarily refrain from demolishing the village before the hearing. Yet, on May 5, 2015, an Israeli high court judge rejected their request for this interim injunction. Israeli authorities have ordered the demolition of all structures in the village and that its residents be moved to the town of Yatta, which is in Area A. It should be noted that the high court judge himself lives in a West Bank settlement. Susiya is now vulnerable to being demolished any day.

Many Israelis and internationals have rallied to bring attention to Susiya’s plight. International attention has stayed evictions in the past; hopefully, it could do so again. You can help by spreading the word about this village (use ‪#SaveSusiya‬), and you can write your representative about your objection to the demolition. Ask them to raise this issue with the US State Department and with the Israeli Embassy.

Susiya residents are asking the international community to take action by protesting the American companies who are complicit in the demolition and theft of the village. Our partners at Who Profits have compiled a list of relevant companies here.

Peace and grace,

Rev. Kate Taber
Mission Co-Worker, Bethlehem
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Copyright © 2015 IPMN, All rights reserved.

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