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«Israel» To Be About To «Commit War Crime» On WB Village
Local Editor

"Israel" is about to "commit a war crime" and leave 50 Palestinian children homeless in freezing winter conditions by demolishing a large chunk of their West Bank village.

Susiya resident

The Village Council of Susiya in the "Israeli"-occupied West Bank has now written an open letter pleading for the international community to exert pressure to stop the demolition, which is now thought to be just days away.

The villagers said the demolition of 20 buildings, one fifth of the village, will "violate the fundamental human rights" of 100 people, half of them children, and leave them "exposed to freezing rain and harsh winds."

Claiming the plan to demolish Susiya is part of a wider "extensive campaign of ['Israeli'] demolitions in the West Bank", the villagers' letter concludes: "The 'Israeli' government has repeatedly violated its obligations to us as protected persons living under occupation.

"It will be a war crime if the ‘Israeli' government forcefully displaces our village."

The "Israeli" authorities have long viewed Susiya as an illegal encampment but the demolition order, announced by the so-called "‘Israeli' State Attorney's Office" on 22 November, has also been condemned by a group of US Senators including Bernie Sanders, and by EU diplomats.

On 24 November the EU Representative and the EU Heads of Mission in al-Quds [Jerusalem] and Ramallah issued a joint statement citing the entity's humanitarian legal obligations as "an occupying power" and demanding the demolition be halted.

Declaring themselves "deeply concerned" about the Susiya demolition plan, the diplomats said: "The EU calls upon the "Israeli" authorities to halt demolitions of Palestinian houses and property, in accordance with its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law, and to cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, of designating land for exclusive "Israeli" use and of denying Palestinian development."

Susiya is located in the South al-Khalil [Hebron] Hills within Area C of the West Bank, where all civil and security affairs are run by the "Israel" Occupation Forces [IDF] through its Civil Administration, as set out in the 1993 Oslo peace accords.

It has been a source of growing tension since 1986.

Supporters of the villagers say at that point they were expelled from their original homes and took to living on their adjacent agricultural lands.

Throughout the nineties, the IOF carried out small-scale demolitions of homes at the new site of Susiya, claiming they had been built illegally.

The Palestinians later rebuilt. The villagers submitted a development plan for Susiya in 2012, but in October 2013 this was rejected by the "Civil Administration's Subcommittee for Planning and Licensing".

The committee was said to have ruled that the rural residences built by the Palestinians did not provide them with proper chances for social advancement, job opportunities or educational empowerment. The committee also argued that the Palestinian Authority and the nearby town of Yatta were unable to provide proper educational, welfare and health services to Susiya.

It allegedly claimed the plan submitted by the villagers would keep Susiya's 350-strong population in "poverty and ignorance", and suggested that they integrate into the urban fabric of "Yatta" instead.

In their letter, the villagers said the 2013 rejection of their plan left them "no choice but to remain on our land living in tents, under very difficult conditions, forbidden from building or repairing anything, in order to protect our land from the threat of annexation by the surrounding [Jewish] settlements."

Now, however, the demolition of Susiya appears imminent, at a time when many commentators think the "Israeli" government has been emboldened by a Trump administration seeming far more reluctant than Obama's to criticize "Israel".

The villagers' letter states "On 22 November 2017 the ‘Israeli' State Attorney's Office announced that within 15 days they plan to demolish 20 buildings, [that] are our homes and also provide shelter for our animals.

"The timing of the demolition - in the middle of winter - could not be more devastating. It will leave us vulnerable and exposed to freezing rain and harsh winds.

"Our health clinic which provides health services for around 500 people from our own and surrounding communities, is among the buildings they plan to demolish. The ‘Israeli' authorities also want to demolish our village council which provides services for 350 local residents."

So far 30 British politicians including MPs and members of the Scottish Parliament have signaled their support for the villagers, along with dozens of academics and activists.

In the November 29 letter initiated by US Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein and Bernie Sanders, a total of 10 US senators, told "Israeli" Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "We urge your government not to demolish the Palestinian village of Susiya and the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar.

"The displacement of entire communities would be an irreversible step away from a two-state solution, and we urge your government to abandon its efforts to destroy these villages.

"Instead of forcibly evicting these communities, we encourage your government to fairly re-evaluate Susiya's professionally developed master plan.

"Your government's threats to demolish these communities are particularly distressing in light of the 'Israeli' Civil Administration's efforts to dramatically expand settlements throughout the West Bank."

"Israeli" Embassy spokespeople were not immediately available for comment.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

05-12-2017 | 11:25

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