Last fall, a delegation of Grassroots International supporters and staff had the privilege of planting and harvesting olives, and spending the night with some of the 350 farming families of Susya in the West Bank. Now the Israeli military threatens to forcibly remove the Palestinian villagers from their agricultural lands and subsequently demolish their entire village. This comes after the Israeli High Court rejected a request filed on behalf of Susya residents, Rabbis for Human Rights and other organizations to prevent the planned demolitions. The Palestinian community in Susya has been under attack for decades, starting with expulsion in 1986 on the grounds that their lands were an historic and archeologically important area. The Israeli government destroyed their homes, burned their crops and turned their land into a national park. However, the land later accommodated an Israeli settlement with well-built, permanent homes with bright red roofs. Over the years the Israeli settlements on this once archeologically protected land expanded and now surround the Palestinian village. At night the hills twinkle with lights from the settlers’ houses. Meanwhile many of the Palestinian farmers in Susya live in networks of low tents and other structures like sheep pens and chicken coops close to their original land. Because this area is deemed “Area C” (i.e. under full Israeli civil and security control), the Palestinian community has been unable to receive Israeli building permits for their simple tents and constantly endure demolition orders like the one recently upheld by the Israeli High Court. It is important to note that the occupation authority rejects 90 percent of Palestinian planning requests in Area C, while Israeli settlements in the very same area are constantly expanding, in violation of international law. There are no public utilities like water or electricity for this community. All water must be purchased, stored in water tanks and carefully rationed out. There are segregated Palestinian roads to get around—sometimes they may need to drive nearly 30 miles to get somewhere that is only five minutes away by a direct path. The southern Hebron Hills, where Susya is located, is known for settler violence. When the Grassroots International delegation visited last fall, shepherds described the physical and verbal assaults they face from settlers on a daily basis as they move their herds in the valley between the Palestinian community and the Israeli settlement. We join our partners at the Union of Agricultural Work Committees and the Via Campesina in calling for the immediate freeze the demolition and removal order in Susya. Please join us in saying “No!” to land confiscations, forcible displacements, olive tree uprootings, violence and destruction of Palestinian agricultural lands.
Denouncing Demolition & Forcible Displacement of Palestinian Village