The following article was written by Rabbi Arik Ascherman, president and senior rabbi of RHR. It originally appeared in the Jewish Chronicle Online.
What I have Witnessed in Susiya
By Rabbi Arik Ascherman
Yesterday, Palestinian residents from the Palestinian village Susya reported that two right wing extremists chased a Palestinian boy in an agricultural area belonging to the village, located near the settlement Susiya. Palestinian residents of Susya have suffered from many instances of violent harassment in this agricultural area and following legal action by Rabbis for Human Rights, an order was issued prohibiting Israelis from entering the area. (In more “typical” circumstances, a government would deter criminal activity and there would be no need for an order forbidding entry on the basis of nationality.) In any case, the boy was able to run away and reach the village before he was caught and adults from the village ran towards the boy to deter those chasing him. Their fears range from the regular attempts to harm Palestinians including children to the fear that this is a retaliation for the recent kidnapping of three Yeshiva students.
The reasons behind the incident are not clear and thus the fears surrounding it remain. We will continue to monitor the situation and warn that violence without intervention simply perpetuates the cycle of hatred and revenge and endangers life on both sides. We can point, for example, to Iraq, the country with the highest rate of terrorism in the world and see how the extremists on both sides – Shiite and Sunni – have chosen to respond to terrorism with more indiscriminate terrorism and see that it has not led to quiet or to deterrence but to an intolerable cycle of violence.
IMAGE: For demonstrative purposes only.
It seems that the only thing that could get the IDF to consider moving a barracks from private Palestinian land is a High Court date. But even if they do move the barracks, the outpost it is on still succeeds in its main objective: preventing Palestinians from accessing their land.
Despite numerous previous requests, only after our appeal at the Israeli High Court of Justice, has the IDF began considering moving a structure, located on private Palestinian land, that has been utilized for years as barracks at the illegal outpost “Avigail.” In addition, even if Palestinian ownership of the land were to be fully respected, the remaining parts of the outpost (on either side of the Palestinian land) leave a narrow path between the two sections of it [see map] which, in reality, would be prohibited to Palestinians as it is a security zone. In this way, the outpost is used to effectively deprive Palestinians of their land without even building on it.
The structure that was used as the army barracks was built on private Palestinian land in the illegal outpost Abigail. Despite numerous requests from Rabbis for Human Rights, the IDF has not evacuated the building (monitoring procedures were “on paper” only, but were not implemented). Only after a High Court appeal did we find in one of the state’s responses, to our surprise, that the structure is usually used as a soldier residence. Following the petition, the army is currently exploring options in the regional brigade to move the structure – or so it seems, at least.
Despite following direction from the army to harvest his wheat, a Palestinian farmer with lands very close to two settlements’ was interpreted by the army and his workers handcuffed as they attempted the task. Though it cannot be proven, RHR suspects the army was called in by the requests of observing settlers. Continue Reading
A Supreme Court ruling from 2010 established the “Empty Plot” test to be utilized in when deciding the fate of structures deemed illegal in Palestinian villages.
While the test itself masquerades as a purely objective, legal-technical planning tool, RHR Attorney Netta Amar Shiff explains how it is actually “a doctrine of denial and concealment” hiding a policy seeking to fully erase the Palestinian people, history and culture. Continue Reading
Rabbi Arik Ascherman, president and senior rabbis at Rabbis for Human Rights, speaking at the First Parish Bedford Unitarian Universalist in Bedford, Massachusetts on March 30th 2014.
Special thank you to David Lance for putting the video together!
Israeli Supreme Court orders participation of Palestinians in planning and zoning processes in Area C of the West Bank.
Jerusalem, April 28th: The Supreme Court gave an interim decision today in response to an appeal brought by Rabbis For Human Rights, ICAHD, JLAC, St. Yves and the Palestinian village of Ad-Dirat- Al-Rfai’ya requesting that planning authority be returned to Palestinians living in Area C. The decision ordered the State to propose, within ninety days, institutionalized ways to facilitate participation of local Palestinians in Area C in the planning processes that affect their lives. Justices Rubinstein, Handel, and Solberg also expressed dissatisfaction with the current planning situation and rejected the state’s argument that participation of Palestinians exists in the current system and therefore the status quo ought to remain. Continue Reading
Basic humanitarian needs and the right to develop should never be conditional upon political agreements or negotiations, and cannot be denied because of the suspension of the diplomatic talks with the Palestinian Authority. Continue Reading
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