Destroying Susiya Village to Save It
by Stephen Lendman
On February 7, 1968, AP correspondent Peter Arnett contributed one of the Vietnam War's most memorable quotes.
Writing about Ben Tre, he cited an unnamed US major saying: "It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it."
He referred to intensive bombing and shelling regardless of civilian casualties. Many deaths resulted.
In mid-March, Charlie Company soldiers entered My Lai. Destroying the village to save it repeated. Hundreds were slaughtered.
Most were women, children, infants, and elderly victims. Bodies were found mutilated. Women were raped, then murdered. William Calley alone was convicted. He got off easy with three and half years under house arrest.
Numerous other incidents never made headlines. They repeat in all wars. US crimes of war and against humanity are some of history's worst. So are Israel's. In war, peace, or in between periods, it terrorizes Palestinian civilians.
On June 12, Maan News headlined "Israeli forces order Hebron village demolished after settler case," saying:
Israel’s Civil Administration (CA) ordered 50 temporary South Hebron Hills Susiya village structures demolished.
Orders said they renewed earlier 1990s rulings. Residents got three days to appeal. It's handled through the Civil Administration's Supreme Planning Council.
Susiya's survival is threatened. Demolition orders came days after residents petitioned Israel's High Court for justice. They challenged efforts by a neighboring Jewish-only settlement called Susiya. The extremist Regavim organization is also involved. More on that below.
Over 100 Palestinians are threatened. Their homes on their own land face demolition. Orders also target a shop, a clinic, a community center, a tent to store sheep milk prior to sale, solar panels, a cave used as a cultural museum, granaries, and shelters for sheep and chickens.
In February, Regavim petitioned Israel's High Court. It demanded CA demolitions. In March, CA responded, saying "in the near future" new demolition orders would be issued. Susiya residents' opposition would be reviewed.
Supreme Court Justice Asher Grunis ruled that "there ought to be an examination of the matter by all parties concerned." He issued a temporary order prohibiting new construction in areas Regavim's petition covered.
However, he failed to order demolitions halted prior to court deliberations.
Current orders represent the third time Israel tried to lawlessly remove Susiya residents from their lands.
Their descendants lived there for generations preceding Israel's creation. In 1983, Susiya settlement was established on Palestinian land. Israel stole it unjustly.
In 1986, Israeli soldiers expelled residents from their homes after the CA declared their village a "national park" in the middle of an archeological site. Descendants of indigenous inhabitants can't visit.
Susiya villagers established residence on agricultural land they own. It's several hundred meters southeast of the original 19th century location.
In July 2001, Israeli Yair Har Sinai was killed. A Palestinian was blamed. Soldiers retaliated. They expelled villagers from their land a second time. Demolition orders destroyed structures and other property. Water holes were blocked.
Villagers petitioned Israel's High Court for justice. In September 2001, its interim order permitted returning to their lands. It prohibited new building.
Deliberations were delayed. Various reasons were given. They included residents notifying the Court that they intended to apply for CA building permits for existing village structures.
Applications were submitted. Denials followed. In June 2007, Israel's High Court dismissed villagers' petition.
Since expelled in 1986, CA officials haven't offered alternative residence sites or granted permission to live legitimately on their own lands. Israel also refuses to allow nearby water and electricity connections.
Spurious reasons given claimed no building plan was submitted.
In recent years, solar panels were installed. Residents need them for electricity. In 2011, CA authorities demolished 14 village structures. They included 10 residential tents housing 87 people. Thirty children were affected.
Twenty additional demolition orders are pending. An elementary school and well are targeted.
Oslo divided the West Bank into three parts. They include Areas A, B and C, plus a fourth for Greater Jerusalem.
Palestinians control Area A for internal security, public order, and civil affairs.
The PA maintains civil control over Area B. It includes 450 towns and villages. Israel retains overriding authority for settler safety and its own interests.
Israel controls Area C entirely. It comprises over 60% of West Bank land. It includes its valuable water resources.
Israel considers it sovereign territory. Land theft is official policy. Israel's been stealing it incrementally for decades. It won't stop until all valued Judea and Samaria parts are taken.
Palestinians are virtually prohibited from building in Area C. In South Hebron Hills, Palestinians fear the next demolition and expulsion of longtime residents. Settlers are free to build without permits. They also get infrastructure connections.
Susiya residents own about 3,000 dunams of agricultural land. It includes 30 water holes. It's close to Susiya settlement. The IDF prohibits residents from entering or farming on much of their property.
In August 2010, Rabbis for Human Rights petitioned Israel's High Court for justice. They demanded revocation of orders denying them access to their own land.
In February 2011, State authorities notified Justices that the army and CA would map land ownership rights. So far, only a small area is covered.
When settlers attack residents on their own land, soldiers and police do nothing to stop them. Israel is obligated to protect occupants of areas it controls. Failure violates international law. Expelling residents from their land constitutes a grievous crime against humanity.
Residents of other South Hebron Hills villages fear who'll next get demolition and expulsion orders. They're located in Israeli-controlled Area C.
In June 2011, CA authorities, accompanied by a private Israeli contracting company destroyed Chirbat Bir El Id village.
Residential structures, tents, and other property were demolished. Agricultural lands were razed. Electric grid connections were cut. Soldiers told residents they don't deserve electricity. They also damaged a water tank and sacks of animal food.
Other area villages were targeted. At issue is ethnic cleansing to facilitate Jewish development. Residents are forced to survive ad hoc. Doing so requires violating permit authority. Future demolitions are feared. They can happen any time with little notice.
Settlers want land stolen for themselves. Israeli authorities oblige. Palestinian villages are destroyed to save them for Jews. The pattern repeats. It affects longtime residents. Legitimate rights are denied.
Palestinians are removed from their own land. Judicial fairness rarely follows. Redress never comes.
In early June, Israel's High Court heard arguments on behalf of Regavim extremists. They demand Palestinian villagers be expelled. They want privately owned Palestinian land for themselves.
Regavim's name roughly means "Preserving the (Jewish) Nation's Lands." Members believe they're entitled to steal them with impunity. Susiya residents are accused of "taking over the land."
They're called intruders on their own property. They're entitled to live where descendants did for generations. Whether Israel's Supreme Court agrees or disagrees remains unclear.
At stake are fundamental rights. Palestinians in hundreds of West Bank villages are affected. It's high time Israel's highest judicial authority supported them as rule of law provisions demand.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War" http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening. http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour