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 email@example.com. 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.
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!