RAMALLAH, July 5 (JMCC) - Writing in the New York Review of Books
, David Shulman traces a direct
line between the destruction and emptying of Palestinian villages during Israel's establishment to the impending expulsion of the West Bank villagers of Susiya.
As a protester against the destruction of this village, which has been reduced through Israeli military orders and settlement building to a number of battered shacks, Shulman describes the last large demonstration, which drew hundreds from other parts of the occupied West Bank and Israel.
This week I find myself in Susya, in the South Hebron hills, near the southern corner of the West Bank. Like their counterparts in many other Palestinian villages, Susya‘s approximately 300 inhabitants are impoverished, badly scarred, terrified, and defenseless. The week before last the officers of the Civil Administration, that is, the Israeli occupation authority, turned up with new demolition orders in their hands; these orders apply to nearly all the standing structures in the village—mostly tents, ramshackle huts, sheep-pens, latrines, and the wind-and-sun-powered turbine that Israeli activists put up some three years back to generate electricity on this stony, thirsty hilltop in the desert. If the orders are carried out—this could happen at any moment—then it means the nearly complete destruction of an entire village and the violent expulsion of its people. They will be, quite literally, cast into the desert.
Not, however, for the first time. Depending on how you count them, there have already been three, perhaps four, expulsions at Susya. The first one happened in 1986, when Palestinian families—over 1500 people— were driven from their homes in Susya al-Qadima, “Old Susya,” which sat on top of an archaeological site that, to their misfortune, contained a second-Temple-period synagogue. They took up residence at a site nearby, on lands belonging to them, called Rujum al-Hamri, which happened to be close to the new Israeli settlement of Susya (established in 1983).
The new settlers, put there by the state, were not good neighbors. In fact, for the last nearly three decades they’ve done whatever they could to drive the Palestinians out—including many violent, sometimes murderous attacks on them, continuous harassment, and efforts to use the courts, both military and civil, against them. Together with several of my colleagues, I myself have had the honor of being brutally assaulted by Susya settlers.