Tag archive for "South Hebron Hills"

General

Add a bit of human rights to your seder: RHR 5774 haggadah supplements

1 Comment 10 April 2014

It is our duty to carry on the Jewish traditions of compassion, equality, and justice. Please consider adding all or parts of the below Haggadah supplements to your Passover seder.

SederPlate

 IMAGE: Seder plate CC-Wikipedia

 

Rabbis for Human Rights Haggadah Supplements 5774

 

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 Rabbis for Human Rights 5774 Passover haggadah supplements

 

WHO SITS WITH US AT OUR SEDER?

Eloheinu v’Elohei Kadmoneinu (Avoteinu, Avoteinu vEmoteinu), our God and God of our ancestors, we are gathered around this seder table as b’nei khorin, free people commanded to remember our dark nights of oppression. Your Torah warns us never to become oppressors ourselves, reminding us, “For you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Yet, when we are honest with ourselves, we know that we have been Pharaoh to other peoples, and to the disadvantaged among our own people. Our awareness that “In every generation there are those who arise to destroy us” often causes us to harden our hearts, and perceive hatred where it does not exist.

We therefore turn to You, as in days of old. Stand with us, so that our fears not rise up to be our taskmasters. Help us to banish Pharaoh from our hearts, and let others in.

With Pharaoh at bay, we become more painfully aware of the desecration of Your Image found in every human being. As with the plagues of old, our joy is diminished when we hear of those whose lives remain embittered. “Hashata Avdei,” “This year we remain slaves because of their oppression ” We remove additional drops of wine from our cup of celebration and renew our commitment to winning their freedom, thereby completing ours. We make room in our hearts and at our table for: (Choose one or more. One person can read out loud, and all participants can read the final section together)

Arabiyah has seen her home demolished six times.There is a hollow and vacant look on her face, and she has struggled with depression ever since the first demolition in 1998. Pictures drawn by children on our office wall testify to the trauma suffered by thousands of Palestinian children who left their homes in the morning, only to find rubble where their house once stood. The pictures are full of violence, blood and tears. With the numbers of demolitions skyrocketing both in the Occupied Territories and in the “Unrecognized” Bedouin villages of the Negev, Arabiya, the children and all the families of all the homes we have seen demolished over the years will be in our hearts as RHR goes to court on April 28t to return zoning and planning in Area C to Palestinian hands.

As we sit at our seder table in our secure homes, we leave a place for those whose tables lie under the rubble of their bulldozed homes.

Rivka struggles every month with only 700 shekels, after rent, for food, water, electricity, health care, transportation and municipal taxes. She wouldn’t even have that without the help of RHR. And, there was no open door or place at the table for the poor at the meetings of the Alaluf Committee given three months to find solutions to Israeli poverty.But, with our intervention, Rivka was invited to tell her story.

As we gather tonight to tell our people’s story, we know we must include the forgotten and untold chapters of those whose suffering has not ended, whose tears continue to fall, and who have nothing but the bread of poverty all year long. As we tell their story, we commit to ending their degradation.

Salim was born in the “Unrecognized” village of Umm El Khiran, after Israel moved his family from their lands near what is now Kibbutz Shuval in the 1950′s.They were given long term leases and promised that they would be able to stay in their new homes “until there are no more Jews or Arabs living on this land.” But now the government has approved building the Jewish community to be called “Khiran” on the rubble of their homes. They must move to a poverty and crime stricken township.

Tonight we are asked to recall Laban the Aramean, who changed our ancestor Jacob’s wages time and time again. Tonight we invite to our table those Israeli Bedouin who have learned that a promise is not a promise, and an agreement is not an agreement. As up to 40,000 Israeli citizens face expulsion from their homes and villages, they have a place in our homes and our hearts, and our commitment not to rest until justice is done.

Natalie breaks into tears every few minutes as she tries to explain why she and her young daughter were forced to squat in an empty public housing after being kicked out of the apartment her job didn’t allow her to afford. She has been on the waiting list for public housing for eight years. But, with successive governments seeking to eliminate housing, the supply is short and every time she gets close to the top of the list, she falls back again.

Tonight we dipherbs in salt water reminiscent of our ancestors’ tears. As we dip tonight we gaze at Natalie’s empty seat, her tears are our tears. As we sing Adir Hu and dream of the day when God’s house will be built, know that first our national home must have a home for all.

Ismail. A bitter wind courses through the South Hebron Hills. RHR returned Ismail and other families to Bir El ‘Id almost ten years after settler intimidation forced them to abandon their villages. The laughter of children was heard again where there had been only desolation. However, Ismail and his family have continued to pay a price since returning. They eked out a living from their flocks, while suffering arbitrary arrests, harassment from settlers and soldiers, tires slashed, water tankers emptied, midnight visits and much violence. Ismail could return to his cave, but everything he and others built was demolished. They build again. A year ago Ismail was brutally attacked by knife wielding masked settlers. The final straw for his children was when settlers attacked them and sent one to the hospital while working their land next to the Mitzpeh Yair outpost, but they were arrested and are about to stand trial. Ismail and the other families of Bir El ‘Id would gladly accept the bitterness of hard labor, were it not for the ruthlessness of army backed settlers.

Our ancestor’s lives were made bitter. As slaves they worked endlessly, with no reward for their labor. Ismail and all the residents of Bir El ‘Id sit with us tonight if we commit to their struggle to peacefully and safely live on their lands.

African refugees. Even after Israel’s High Court struck down the law allowing African refugees to be imprisoned for the crime of fleeing for their lives, the Knesset approved a new law creating “Open” detention facilities. The detained are the lucky ones. A fence prevents most from crossing our border. Traumatized Israeli soldiers tell how they defy orders when they can, but often helplessly watch those cannot cross being shot and raped by Egyptian soldiers.

As we open our doors to invite all who are hungry to come and eat, we remember the many doors closed to us over long years of persecution. As we await Elijah, the empty seat next to us waits for those who our fences prevent from arriving.

Even ma’asu habonim – “The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.”

As we joyfully recite these words as a part of our seder, we pledge to build a homeland with a place for all those who are today rejected, ignored or oppressed. Tonight, they all have a place at our table.

Recalling the midwives of old, we know that the seeds of redemption are planted when we oppose Pharaoh’s command.

This year we also celebrate accomplishments. Lands have been returned to Palestinian owners, olives have been picked, trees planted and fields successfully sowed and reaped. Inside Israel the Bedouin displacement program has been frozen, while the public attention we have focussed on the Alaluf Committee on fighting poverty will apparently lead to a significant change in the recommendations for the better.

MAY THESE GLIMPSES OF WHAT COULD BE STRENGTHEN OUR RESOLVE TO STRIVE FOR WHAT MUST BE:

NEXT YEAR IN A JERUSALEM REDEEMED THROUGH JUSTICE 

The Four Children at the Seder Table: Which Child Am I?

As we celebrate this Holiday of Freedom, the ending of slavery, we ask, “Who am I, when I hear of human rights abuses? Who will I choose to be when I know that others are suffering?”

Will I be one who does not ask? Will I close the newspaper or turn off the television, the computer or the mobile device so that I do not hear or see? Will I turn my head and heart away?

Will I ask only simple questions? “What is this?” Will I ask what, but never why?

Will I let the evil impulse, my yetzer hara ask: “What has this to do with me?” Will I let the problem belong only to the victims and the do-gooders? Will I distance myself from those in need?

Or will I strive to act in wisdom, to ask: “What are the underlying causes of the problem and what needs to be done to stop the abuse and free the oppressed? What are the laws and what does Gd expect of me?”

May Gd open the eyes of those who do not see, the mouths of those who do not ask, and the hearts of those who do not care, and grant us the wisdom to open our hands to our fellow humans when they are in need – the hand of generosity, the hand of support, the hand of peace and friendship.

Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch, Commentary to the Torah

You shall not wrong a ger (Non-Jew living among you and living by your rules) or oppress him/her, for you were gerim in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 22:20)

The great, meta-principle is oft-repeated in the Torah that it is not race, not descent, not birth nor country of origin, nor property, nor anything external or due to chance, but simply and purely the inner spiritual and moral worth of a human being, that gives him/her all the rights of a human being and of a citizen. This basic principle is further protected against infringement by the additional explanation, “For you were gerim in the land of Egypt.” Your entire misfortune in Egypt was that you were “foreigners” and “aliens.” As such, according to the views of other nations, you had no right to be there, had no claim to property, to homeland, or to a dignified existence. It was permissible to do to you whatever they wished. As gerim, your rights were denied in Egypt. This was the source of the slavery and wretchedness imposed upon you. Therefore beware, so runs the warning, from making human rights in your own state conditional on anything other than on the basic humanity which every human being as such bears within him/her by virtue of being human. Any suppression of these human and civil rights opens the gate to the indiscriminate use of power and abuse of human beings, to the whole horror of Egyptian mishandling of human beings that was the root of abomination of Egypt.

 Do not “wrong”, Do not “oppress”…means to be illegally deprived of material or spiritual possessions…[thus, the full implication is] – Neither by words nor by deeds shall you hurt a ger…[and] here the admonition against differentiating against gerim is directed primarily to the state as such. It is not to practice any discrimination and injustice against gerim because they are gerim.. It is not to impose heavier taxes or grant lesser rights than it does to the native-born; and in no ways is it to restrict them in the free exercise of any means of gaining their livelihood…The main point is not to limit where s/he can live, or taking away his/her hold on his/her possessions.

 

 

 

General, Occupied Territories

Helpless against the might of the state: Rabbi Ascherman replies to a friend of Carmel

3 Comments 02 March 2014

The Bedouin village of Umm el-Kheir is just a stone’s throw away from the Carmel settlement in the South Hebron Hills. Its residents live in huts and tents in abject poverty, without water hook-ups or electricity, while the residents of Carmel enjoy an existence resembling life in the suburbs of any Western country.

For a number of years, the shepherds of Umm el-Kheir have struggled against the settlers of Carmel who claim that part of Umm el-Kheir sits on the Jewish settlement. Recently, tensions came to the surface again as settlers planted trees on a ridge– a tactic used in the past to “claim”  their land. The trees were uprooted and as a result, the village shepherds were collectively punished by blocked access to their pastures. Additionally, Carmel settlers physically attempted to prevent the flocks from passing. Continue Reading

General, Legal Work, Occupied Territories

Why bother? High Court’s recent ruling begs question, “Is justice even possible?”

No Comments 23 February 2014

 In its most recent ruling on extremist settler incursions into Palestinian land adjacent to Susya, the High Court of Justice created a severe impediment to justice. Essentially, the ruling  makes it so that there’s no longer any reason for Palestinians to petition it in cases wherein settlers invaded land over five years ago, as well as in cases where the legal counsel to the Civil Administration in the Occupied Territories does not want to intervene. The High Court simply will not intervene in decisions the military system has already made. This isn’t even a case of “statute of limitations” (which does not apply in these cases because there is no purchase document, proper possession, etc.), but rather the High Court’s refusal to recognize the regime’s responsibility towards problems it creates and enables. Continue Reading

General, Occupied Territories

Ta’ayush activist assaulted

No Comments 09 February 2014

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 8.44.28 PM

Saturday, February 8th activists from the group Ta’ayush were attacked by 10-15 masked extremists nearby the illegal outpost of Eshtamoa in the South Hebron Hills. The activists assist Palestinian farmers and shepherds each week with their work in various ways. One activists was violently pushed, kicked, punched and beaten with a club. The assault was captured on film, and soldiers were within proximity to the events. Continue Reading

General, Legal Work

High Court Rules on Susya

1 Comment 04 February 2014

PRESS RELEASE | February 4th 2014

The High Court of Justice rejects two petitions regarding the Palestinian village of Susya, enabling the IDF to evade responsibility for land theft

QuamarSusya residents

PHOTO: RHR attorney Quamar Mishirqi meets with residents of Susya

Rabbis for Human Rights:

“The High Court of Justice has enabled the State to evade its responsibility in preventing seizures of land belonging to Palestinian farmers. This is not a case of civil strife between two equal neighbours, but rather systemic military discrimination that has enabled and even supported coerced removal of Palestinian farmers from their lands.” Continue Reading

General, Occupied Territories

South Hebron Hills Study Tour

4 Comments 13 January 2014

On Friday, January 3rd 2014, Rabbi Ascherman led a group of rabbinical, cantorial and education students  on study-tour to the South Hebron Hills, the major geographical focus of RHR’s legal department.  Students learned about the fascinating culture of the cave-dwelling Palestinians there, and visited Bir El ‘Id, a village abandoned for ten years due to settler intimidation until RHR’s legal team returned them to their homes in 2009, Palestinian Susya, where RHR’s legal department continues to fight on behalf of its residents to keep their homes and lands, as well as Ad Dirat. The group was joined by one of RHR’s attorney’s, Miya Keren.  Continue Reading

General, Legal Work

Legal department update

No Comments 30 December 2013

Attorney Mishirqi-Asad, director of the Legal Department for Rabbis for Human Rights, commented on the Court’s decision to reject the appeal on behalf of the settlers of Achiya Farm, a major producer of olive oil, as this was the just thing to do. On the other hand, she is concerned that the army continues to allow Palestinian land theft in Susya. Continue Reading

Legal Work, Occupied Territories

Susya: A History of Loss

No Comments 07 November 2013

susyamapPalestinian Susya- A History of Expulsion and Loss

The Palestinian village of Susya has existed for hundreds of years, long predating the Jewish Israeli settlement of Susya, which was founded in its neighborhood in 1983. Written records of the existence of a Palestinian community in its location exist from as far back as 1830, and the village is also found on British Mandate maps from 1917. The residents of Khirbet Susya, who today reside in temporary structures north of the Israeli settlement, originally lived in the village of Susya Al-Qadime, located near the ancient synagogue at Susya, where there was a settled village until the 1980s. The Palestinian residents’ ownership of this land is established in law.

First Expulsion

In June 1986, approximately three years after the Israeli settlement of Susya was established in the area, the Palestinian village’s land was expropriated for “public use” and the location was designated as an archeological site. The State’s use of expropriation procedures proves that it recognized that this land was privately owned. Later, the expropriated land was attached to the regional jurisdiction of the Israeli settlement of Susya. Entry to this area is forbidden to Palestinians under the standing military order that forbids Palestinians from entering settlement territory. Village residents were expelled from their homes and their lands, and lost most of their property. The residents were unable to resist the expulsion, which, though conducted through a legal mechanism, did not take the fate of the villagers into account. The expelled village residents settled in caves and tin shacks in an area some 500 meters from their village, in an area today named Rujum al-Hamri, near the settlement Susya. The villagers continued to cultivate their (privately owned) lands. Today, Israeli settlers reside in an illegal outpost located inside the archeological site.

Second Expulsion

The villagers’ proximity to the red-roofed settlement, whose Israeli residents were uninterested in their “new” neighbors, led to their second expulsion. One night in 1990, the Palestinian villagers were loaded onto trucks and taken to an area near Zif Junction – some 15 km north of Susya. Having been expelled from their village and then from their new homes in Rujum, the residents returned to their privately owned agricultural lands and began to live in caves and huts, each family residing on its own agricultural plots from then on. The village’s communal life ceased to exist.

Third Expulsion

The Israeli settlement of Susya has elected to have no perimeter fence. Its residents subscribe to the ideology according to which having no fence means having access to more land. And indeed, in the late 1990s, the isolated farm originally called Magen David Farm and today known as Mitzpe Yair was expanded, and the prosperous agricultural outpost of Dahlia Farm was established. The farm earns an income from a large herd of sheep, which requires a large area of pasturelands to graze. In those years, the settlers of Susya and its outposts seized lands from their Palestinian neighbors and in effect created an unauthorized restricted area to which Palestinians are forbidden from entering. In several instances, Palestinians found on these lands were shot and killed. In July 2001, following the murder of the settler Yair Har-Sinai while he was herding sheep in the area, the residents of Palestinian Susya became the targets of acts of revenge and another expulsion. The expulsion was carried out without warning and was especially violent. Caves were destroyed, wells were blocked, fields were vandalized and animals killed. The expulsion was accompanied by violent arrests and beatings. According to the villagers’ testimony, some of those Israelis present at the expulsion were civilians and not soldiers or police officers – they were apparently settlers familiar with the area who came to supervise the expulsion.

First Petition – Ceasing the Illegal Expulsion

Following the third expulsion in 2001, a legal battle was conducted between the Palestinian residents and the IDF. The Israeli High Court of Justice issued an injunction which instructed the IDF to allow the residents to return to live in their caves and to cease the demolitions.

Second Petition – Access to Private Lands

Acts of settler violence continued to escalate. A routine of violence and blocking access developed – when Palestinians attempted to reach their lands, armed and often masked settlers would set out towards them and alert the security forces. Either the settlers or the security forces would remove the Palestinians from their own lands, despite having no legal justification to do so. RHR has documentation of dozens of complaints filed by Palestinians with the Israel Police regarding violence towards them, trespassing on their lands, vandalism of fields and trees, sabotage of wells and water tanks, poisoning of pastures and wells, and even arson attacks on tents and physical attacks on families in their homes at night. Only three of these cases are being heard in Magistrate’s Court. The protection and back-up provided by security forces – the IDF, the police and the Civil Administration – to the Israeli Susya settlers has allowed the settlers to establish their unauthorized restricted area as one forbidden to Palestinians, and within it, to occupy more and more lands belonging to the residents of Palestinian Susya. Over the years, the area of the outpost has grown to ten times (see map) the size of the settlement itself. In 2010, the residents of Palestinian Susya appealed to the High Court of Justice via Rabbis for Human Rights, seeking to restrain the settlers’ violence and to allow the village’s residents access to their lands. Thus far, the military commander has declared some 12% of the lands of the residents who participated in the appeal as “closed to Israelis” in order to prevent further seizures and trespassing. However, no solution has yet been provided for the remainder of the lands and the ongoing plight of the residents. Settlers have been evicted from just two privately held plots where they were squatting.

Third petition – Demolitions

In February 2012, the right-wing organization Regavim, together with the settlement Susya, filed a petition with the High Court of Justice as an act of revenge against closing areas to Israelis and against the residents of Palestinian Susya’s petition regarding their lands. The petition demanded the immediate demolition of all of the structures of the village, which was described in the petition as an “illegal outpost.” The basis for the demand was what the settlers perceived as the “security risk” posed by the villagers. Reality contradicts this claim, and in fact restricting certain areas to Israeli access demonstrates the Palestinians’ need for protection from the settlers.

The attached map shows illegal Israeli construction in the area. The map demonstrates the cynical nature of the settlers’ petition, whose purpose was not to maintain law and public order, but rather to expel non-Jews.

The villagers were first expelled from the privately-held lands on which they lived in ancient caves in 1986. In the almost-thirty years since, they have not been offered any housing solution. The Civil Administration has not prepared a master plan for the village, and in the absence of such a plan, building permits cannot be acquired. Previous attempts by the residents of Palestinian Susya to arrange a master plan were rejected and all of the village’s structures, approximately one hundred buildings in total, received demolition orders. These demolitions will result in hundreds of residents of Palestinian Susya being cast out under the desert’s blazing sun for the fourth time since the area was conquered by the State of Israel.

Working towards a Fourth Petition – Planning

In December 2012, residents of the village Susya submitted a master plan for their village which would authorize all of the structures in the village (approximately 100 temporary structures exist in the village). In May 2013, the Civil Administration’s Subcommittee for Planning and Licensing discussed the plan and in October 2013, issued a detailed decision to reject the plan. At the same time, the Subcommittee for Supervision decided to issue final demolition orders against all the structures in Susya. The Subcommittee for Supervision gave an extension of 60 days for appeals to the courts.

The written decision to reject the plan begins with the Planning Subcommittee stating that it refrained from providing detailed and professional instructions to the planner because of a lack of substantive justification for advancing the plan in this location.

The primary arguments for rejecting the plan included:

  • Urban structure broadens horizons while rural residences built based on family structure do not provide tools for social advancement, job opportunities or cultural and educational empowerment to the individual. The existing structure also prevents Palestinian women from escaping the cycle of poverty and advancing in education and employment.
  • Neither the Palestinian Authority nor the Yatta Municipality can provide educational, welfare, religious or healthcare services to Susya over time because of the wide dispersion which would burden public coffers. External support from international entities, which sometimes exists here and sometimes in other countries, also cannot be considered a healthy, strong or permanent structure able to provide services to the population.
  • The small size of Susya’s population does not allow for growth or proper community life. In addition, Susya is an uncontrolled development of Yatta and therefore will weaken the city’s institutions and condemn the village to life without adequate services.

The conclusion of the decision recommends that Susya residents initiate an alternate plan for a location closer to Yatta, at which point the Subcommittee will consider allocating state lands. However, a cursory examination of the map confirms that Susya is less than three kilometers from Yatta and bordering on Area B. Therefore, the recommendations of the Subcommittee effectively mean transferring the residents of Susya out of Area C, where the Subcommittee does not have planning or allocation authority.

Within 60 days, Rabbis for Human Rights will submit a petition to the High Court of Justice on behalf of the residents of Susya against the decision to reject the plan and against the clear subversion of human rights according to international humanitarian law.

Planning Policy

The planning policy carried out by the State of Israel in Area C prevents Palestinians living in this area from building in any manner which would be considered legal by the occupation authorities. Since the 1970s, there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of building permits issued to the Palestinian population. Whereas in 1972, approximately 97% of the 2134 requests were approved, in 2005, only 13 of the 189 requests filed (6.9%) were approved. Along with the sharp decrease in the number of approvals, the dramatic drop in the number of requests is also worthy of note.Furthermore, the discriminatory demolition policy directed against Palestinians has become more severe: According to Civil Administration data, between 2000 and 2007, approximately one third of demolition orders issued for Palestinian communities were carried out, compared to less than 7% in Israeli settlements. From 2008 to 2011, the Civil Administration demolished 1101 structures in Palestinian communities. During the same time period, all plans filed regarding Palestinian areas were rejected without exception.
The lack of planning is also evident in the absence of basic and critical infrastructure for the Palestinian population, such as electricity, water, education and healthcare, while the settlers enjoy magnificent planning. The evidence demonstrates that this is not an issue of legal constraint, it is rather an intentional policy with a clear purpose: the quiet transfer of Palestinians out of Area C – as is evident also in the reports of UN representatives and the European Union.

Legal Work, Occupied Territories

Susya update

No Comments 06 November 2013

Susya Threatened Again | November 2013

susyaPhoto: Susya, West Bank (Activestills)

(For a full history of Susya, please see here.)

In December 2012, residents of the village Susya submitted a master plan for their village which would authorize all of the structures in the village (approximately 100 temporary structures exist in the village). In May 2013, the Civil Administration’s Subcommittee for Planning and Licensing discussed the plan and in October 2013, issued a detailed decision to reject the plan. At the same time, the Subcommittee for Supervision decided to issue final demolition orders against all the structures in Susya. The Subcommittee for Supervision gave an extension of 60 days for appeals to the courts.

The written decision to reject the plan begins with the Planning Subcommittee stating that it refrained from providing detailed and professional instructions to the planner because of a lack of substantive justification for advancing the plan in this location.

The primary arguments for rejecting the plan included:

  1.  Urban structure broadens horizons while rural residences built based on family structure do not provide tools for social advancement, job opportunities or cultural and educational empowerment to the individual. The existing structure also prevents Palestinian women from escaping the cycle of poverty and advancing in education and employment.
  2.  Neither the Palestinian Authority nor the Yatta Municipality can provide educational, welfare, religious or healthcare services to Susya over time because of the wide dispersion which would burden public coffers. External support from international entities, which sometimes exists here and sometimes in other countries, also cannot be considered a healthy, strong or permanent structure able to provide services to the population.
  3. The small size of Susya’s population does not allow for growth or proper community life. In addition, Susya is an uncontrolled development of Yatta and therefore will weaken the city’s institutions and condemn the village to life without adequate services.

The conclusion of the decision recommends that Susya residents initiate an alternate plan for a location closer to Yatta, at which point the Subcommittee will consider allocating state lands. However, a cursory examination of the map confirms that Susya is less than three kilometers from Yatta and bordering on Area B. Therefore, the recommendations of the Subcommittee effectively mean transferring the residents of Susya out of Area C, where the Subcommittee does not have planning or allocation authority.

Within 60 days, Rabbis for Human Rights will submit a petition to the High Court of Justice on behalf of the residents of Susya against the decision to reject the plan and against the clear subversion of human rights according to international humanitarian law.

An Absurd Decision: RHR Responds 

The Committee overstepped its mandate and determined that the plan we proposed sought to keep the residents of Palestinian Susya in “poverty and ignorance” [page 11, end of second paragraph in attached decision], because it is supposedly preferable for the residents to integrate into the nearby “urban fabric” (of the town of Yatta) rather than remaining in a small community (which inherently leads to poverty and ignorance as far as they are concerned).
*
This is an especially infuriating and cynical statement by the military regime authorities in the West Bank, considering they expelled the village residents and nationalized a portion of their lands; placed numerous obstacles in the way of building a school for the village children at its location after the expulsion (and a demolition order was issued for the school after it was built); when they are preventing development in the village and left it for decades without infrastructure for electricity, water, sewage, roads and sidewalks; while those same authorities destroyed the caves and meager improvised dwellings of village residents several times, including after the major expulsion, and did not defend the poor residents from the theft of their lands and their harvest by extreme settlers; and while they propose to the village residents, farmers by trade, to be forcibly transferred to the Palestinian town of Yatta which is beset by unemployment and poverty and to almost certainly lose their agricultural lands, the source of their income [settlers have already managed to take control of 400 dunams of Palestinian land in the area, even while the farmers are present on the lands]. If anyone is promoting poverty and ignorance in Palestinian Susya, it is precisely the policy of military authorities and the “Civil Administration”. Life in a small community does not necessarily mean poverty and ignorance.
*
The policy promoted by Israeli authorities in the West Bank is unconnected to a desire to eliminate poverty and ignorance and does not advance this goal. Rather, the policy promotes neglect and underdevelopment with one central goal: driving the Palestinians into as small an area as possible; and specifically driving Palestinian farmers in Area C [which is under Israeli control] into the small crowded enclaves of Area A [which is under Palestinian control].
*
All the facts show that the overall trend is this relocation, also hinted at by the government announcement which states, with regards to the proposed plan to leave the village in its current location, that: “…the Committee found that planning is not feasible for construction at such a great distance from Yatta, which is the city that comprises the regional center of life in this area.” The State clearly expressed a desire to transfer the residents of the Palestinian village of Susya to Yatta or adjacent to it. Yatta is a town in Area A, all of five kilometers from Susya, and not at “such a great distance” from it. Therefore, the State’s stance is completely unreasonable, and seems unrelated to the matter at hand, meaning that it is not by nature a matter of civilian planning – that is, a matter of the good of the residents – but rather a matter of driving out and expulsion.
*
The village of Susya originally stood where the archaeological site of Susya is located today, and the villagers were expelled from there to their nearby agricultural lands. In contrast with the claims of settler organizations, the existence of the village was recognized by the deceased jurist Plia Albek, who was identified with the settlement enterprise. In her written opinion about the area, which led to its being declared in the 1980s an archaeological site containing an ancient synagogue, she wrote, “The synagogue is found in a location known as the lands of Khirbet Susya, around which is an Arab village amidst the ancient ruins. The lands of Khirbet Susya are registered in the Land Registry. According to this entry, the land – an area of approximately three thousand dunams – is privately owned by numerous Arab owners.”

The case of Susya also demonstrates the importance of our principled appeal to return planning rights to the Palestinians in Area C.

General, Occupied Territories, Press Releases

Thank you!

2 Comments 07 February 2013

Photo: Guy | Taayosh
Thank you to the over 1,000 of you who in the space of a few days sent letters to President Shimon Peres asking for his intervention in preventing the demolition of the entire village of Susya.  If you have not already done so, please forward a copy of your letter to info@rhr.israel.net.  Please also forward to us any response you receive.  Thousands of you have entered our Susya website, and many of you have viewed the moving video blog posts filmed by award winning documentary film maker Ibtisam Marana.  Keep it up! We hope to have more posts (and perhaps more action requests) soon.

Many of you have anxiously enquired what happened in Court on Thursday.  We were cautiously optimistic about the attitude of the judges, and feel that we succeeded in making the point that neither the position of Regavim nor the position of the State is just.  The fact that there is no zoning plan allowing the residents of Susya to build legally, and the fact that the security forces are dragging their feet in dealing with cases of land takeovers, denial of access to lands, inadequate protection against violence, etc., are both functions of the power the State holds over Palestinians because Palestinians are not represented in the bodies controlling their fate.

 

B’Vrakha,

Rabbi Arik Ascherman                    Advocate Quamar Mishirqi Asad

                                                            Head of RHR’s OT Legal Department

Here is the RHR press release written after we received the Court’s interim decisions on Sunday:

 

On Sunday (February 2nd) the Israeli Supreme Court Issued Interim Decisions Following Last Thursday’s (31 January) Hearing Regarding the Palestinian Village of Susya

Last Thursday RHR represented the Palestinian village of Susya in Israel’s Supreme Court in one case where the extreme right wing NGO Regavim demanded the demolition of the entire village. The Court also heard RHR’s petition calling for an end of foot dragging by the Israeli Civil Administration in multiple examples of land takeovers, denial of access to Palestinian owned farming and grazing lands, and sources of water, etc.  In the first case the Court is giving the Government the time it requested to process an alternative zoning plan submitted by RHR in order to legalize Susya’s homes, and acceded to our demand that 90 days be given to create a second plan for additional homes not represented by RHR and outside the first plan. Regarding RHR’s petition, the Court issued an order demanding that the State report within 60 days on progress made. Last week over 1,000 of letters were sent to President Shimon Peres within several days asking for his assistance to ensure that the residents of Susya are not displaced yet again. The President can not intervene with the court process, but can ask the State to take place to safeguard the residents.

Regarding the petition of the far-right organization Regavim calling for demolition of the village, the court decided – in accordance with attorneys Avital Sharon and Kamer Mishraki of RHR, who represent the village – to grant an extension of 90 days, to allow for the preparation of a plan for the southern section of the village. The state has never provided suitable planning for Palestinian Susya, as it must. The planning system determining the fate of Palestinians in Area C is a military system in which Palestinians  are not represented. (It is as if the Palestinian Police were to plan Israeli towns without involving Israelis in the process). Granting the possibility of submitting plans by private parties in dialogue with the villagers is the least that can be expected in terms of justice and fairness.

In the petition that RHR submitted on behalf of the Susya residents against the methodical blockage of Palestinian access to their lands, the court gave the state 90 days to detail its plans. In paragraph 1 of the decision the court directs the State to address in detail each plot around Susya, and in the absence of a court decision, to provide a date by which the investigation will conclude.

Quammar Mishirqi Asad (Attorney heading RHR’s OT Legal Department): “Overall it’s a positive ruling, under the circumstances. You have to understand that the attempt to expell the Palestinian villagers of Susya to the town of Yata, far from their livelihood – their fields – demonstrates a readiness to trample human rights in favor of an unofficial political policy to annex parts of Area C – annexation of land without Palestinians. Any political program must be subject to the principles of human and civil rights.”

Rabbi Arik Ascherman: “The truth is, it is we Israelis who are on trial. How is it that we have created a country in which we that twice expelled families from their homes, reduced them to living on their farmlands in caves, destroyed those caves, and then issued demolition orders on every alternative shelter they built? The prophet Nathan once accused King David of being akin to a rich man who takes the one little ewe lamb of a poor man, “You are that man.” (Samuel II 12:7) When the ruling comes out, we will know if we are that state. King David recognized that he was the man.. If we recognize who we are today, maybe we will succeed in becoming who we want to be tomorrow.”

A Brief History of Palestinian Susya: In the 1980’’s the original village was designated an archaeological zone and cleared of its residents with no alternative accommodations; entry by Palestinians was barred, not even as visitors. With no choice the uprooted villagers moved to their nearby fields. All buildings deemed illegal are the result of forced expulsion, as is the destruction of the caves in which most of the villagers lived until 2001 (which is what forced them to set up tents). For more extended history please click Here!

What do you feel about the Supreme Court Proceedings on Thursday (31 January) Regarding the Palestinian Village of Susya?

April 28: RHR Planning Appeal against housing demolitions!

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