Confiscation of a tractor is just one example of the daily grinding reality of living in susiya; a village in Area C in the south Hebron Hills.
by Ineke, South Hebron Hills team
On 19 November 2014, the Israeli military stopped a villager from Susiya who was ploughing. His tractor was under arrest for aiding in the installation of water tanks the previous day. Apparently one of the water tanks was carried on the trailer attached to the tractor.
Why is this a crime you may ask?
Susiya lies in Area C. This means that the village and its residents are under full Israeli administrative and military control. Residents need a building permit for any new structure – toilet, animal pen, house addition and also a water tank. If there is no permit, the it gets demolished or confiscated. Permits though are almost always refused for those living in Area C villages. Over 94% of Palestinian applications for building permits in Area C have been rejected in recent years.
Since 1985, the village of Susiya, located in the South Hebron Hills, has been destroyed or relocated at least 5 times. Their olive trees have been uprooted. They are watched and harassed by Israeli settlers and closely observed by the Israeli army.
Thus when Susiya received new water tanks donated by COMET ME, it was not surprising that the Israeli authorities became aware of it. They even knew the tractor was used in transporting the water tanks.
Now soldiers stood guard around the tractor. A lady, sowing seeds in the field came to see what was happening and was clearly upset. A tractor is vital in the ploughing season and the seeds need to be sown. Of course, the Israeli authorities know this and it is not a coincidence that they targeted the tractor. It would make life more difficult for the villagers.
Water tanks too are vital for the community. With the rainy season, it is important to collect as much water as possible in the cisterns and fill the tanks. To buy water is very costly especially for Palestinians who pay five times more than Israeli settlers.
The tractor was taken into the village where the trailer was located and attached. Then both were driven onto a truck along with one of the frames holding a water tank. Another truck came and took four water tanks and another frame.
After the initial anger and distress displayed by the villagers, there was a quiet acceptance. The residents from Susiya were powerless to stop what was happening. One lady sat on a rock and cried. I too cried, not for the tractor or tanks, but because what was happening is so mean-spirited.
Yet, I know the people of Susiya will go on. It is their only means of resistance. To refuse to leave their land, to give in and give up. They will continue to have their sheep, to live in makeshift homes which are demolished time and again. And to plough, plant and harvest. Despite the difficulties. They have a strong belief that God will not allow this injustice to continue; that one day it will be better.
I hope and pray they are right and that some day I will visit again when they have the same rights and freedoms we enjoy and the burden of the occupation is but a memory.