We have all heard about what is going on in Susiya lately. Demolitions, demolitions and demolitions. But we have not heard from Khan al Ahmar. In Khan Al Ahmar, a small mixed primary school made out of used rubber tyres is being threatened with demolition by the Israeli Civil Administration.
Khan Al Ahmar. Thirteen year old Nasreen a student from the school that wants to be a teacher. Photo EAPPI 11.08.16
Before us about 20 tents mostly made out of black or white tarpaulin sheets are nestled into the rugged landscape. The only sounds that can be heard are the faint sound of a television in one of the furthest tents, sometimes the bleat of a sheep, our footsteps, and the wind lifting up the dust earth beneath us; it barely alleviates the stifling summer heat. A number of small water cisterns are scattered amongst the tents. It looks like a makeshift camp even though it has been here for decades. We are in the Palestinian village of Susiya, in the south of the West Bank. Here there is no proper infrastructure, no running water or electricity supply. It stands in stark contrast to the Israeli settlement nearby, which looks like your average 21st century housing estate (settlements are fully integrated into Israel’s national power grid, water and telecommunication systems).
Palestinian village of Susiya in the foreground and the Israeli settlement of Susya in the background. Photo EAPPI/ L.l. Pianezza 28.06.2015
Three weeks ago, EAs visited a village called Wadi J’Hesh which is also know as south Susiya, in the Hebron governorate. This village is located between the Palestinian village of Susiya and the illegal Israeli settlement Susya. During the visit we learned that, thanks to the intervention of local and international humanitarian NGOs, living conditions have been improving for residents. Wadi J’Hesh now has access to clean, safe drinking water and electricity. Despite these small improvements in living standards, the Israeli authorities have not yet recognised their village and the community still lives with the constant threat of demolition. At the time of our visit forty three structures in the village had pending demolition orders. Although they await a major court case on the 1st of August that will decide the fate of these structures, they know that demolitions can happen at any time. Continue reading →
On the 10th of May 2016, the Israeli army’s Civil Administration District Coordination Office, accompanied by Israeli soldiers, issued four stop work orders on tents in Susiya in the Massafer Yatta area of Hebron.
This video shows the DCO official, accompanied by two soldiers, issuing a stop work order on a residential tent belonged to the Nawaja family. The family was not home at the time so the inspector leaves the stop work order under a rock next to the entrance of the tent. He then takes a photo of the order pinned under the rock as evidence that the notice of the order was executed lawfully. This tent is home to a family of seven, including five children. Jihad Nawaja, the head Susiya Village Council, talks with the inspector.
The 2nd of April 2015 seemed like a good day for Palestinians and for Christians in the Holy Land after a two-year court battle reached a resolution. The Israeli Supreme Court ordered the defence ministry to reconsider the route of the Barrier. This ruling halted the Israeli militaries plans to take 75% of a convent’s land in the Cremisan Valley, surround it on three sides by a 12 meter high separation barrier, divide it from the neighbouring monastery, deprive 58 Palestinian Christians of their land and prevent over 400 families from accessing their land without a permit.
Media around the world were quick to highlight this rare victory in a case that had been supported by Churches around the world and in which the Pope had taken a close interest.
But the Separation Barrier was still built. These photographs chart how it happened. Continue reading →
In 2002 , following a series of suicide attacks the Israeli military devised a plan to secure its people . A wall was built separating people from people. In 2008, the suicide attacks had ceased but construction of the Barrier, whose objective is to separate the entire West Bank from Israel, continued.
Today is 11 April 2016. I stand and watch as the bulldozers dig among olive groves and cranes slowly place concrete blocks next to each other. I stand next to Issa on the land that had once been his, now confiscated by the Israeli military to divide the Cremisan Valley from Beit Jala for security reasons. Issa’s eyes are empty and he shrugs his shoulders at the sight of what is happening in front of us. His entire olive grove is destroyed, and with it his family’s history and future. Issa is one of 58 families whose olive groves were torn up to build the Separation Barrier. In the end, the wall around Cremisan Valley will restrict between about 400 and 500 families from accessing their land. With the wall slowly being built in front of us, I ask Issa whether he still has hope:
“There’s always hope. The Berlin Wall fell, and even this wall will fall.”