Save our village from Israeli bulldozers: an open letter from Susiya in occupied West Bank

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Open letter signed by politicians, artists, academics, unions and other international voices calling on Israel to stop its demolition of Palestinian Village.

Source: Mondoweiss

By Nasser Nawajaa, Susiya Village Council spokesperson

As I write this letter, our village, Susiya, located in the south Hebron Hills of the occupied West Bank of Palestine, is in immediate threat of demolition. The only way to stop the demolition is through international pressure.

On 22 November 2017 the Israeli State Attorney’s Office announced that within 15 days they plan to demolish 20 buildings, which represent one-fifth of our village. This will violate the fundamental human rights of around 100 villagers, half of them children. The 20 buildings 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.

Susiya: A community at imminent risk of forced displacement – Graphic: OCHA

In 2012 we commissioned a master plan for our village, which was rejected several times by the Israeli authorities. The rejection prevents us from building houses together with the necessary infrastructure such as running water, electricity and paved roads to create a sustainable life in our village. It leaves us no choice but to remain on 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 settlements. In the Israeli government’s recent response it was agreed to examine the legal principle of the planning issue. Yet despite the potential to develop a master plan for the village, the government states that it will demolish the 20 buildings immediately. And as we know from past experience, if they come to demolish once, nothing will prevent them coming back and trying to demolish the rest of our village.

The plan to demolish Susiya is a part of an extensive campaign of demolitions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Last year saw the largest number of demolitions in over a decade. This reality has nothing to do with democracy or the rule of law. Instead, the Israeli government has repeatedly violated its obligations to us as protected persons living under occupation. In accordance with international law, Israel has an obligation to provide for the needs of the local protected population, an obligation it openly shirks. Furthermore, it will be a war crime if the Israeli government forcefully displaces our village.

We therefore demand:

  • No forced demolition of our village, Susiya
  • The right to self determination over the natural development of our village
  • Acceptance of our master plan and thereby the planning and building of concrete houses and the necessary infrastructure

The Village Council of Susiya appeals to the international community to stand with us in all possible ways in the face of enforced expulsion by the Israeli state.

Nasser Nawajaa, Susiya Village Council spokesperson

With the support of voices from the international community —

POLITICIANS:

Grahame Morris MP, Chair, Labour Friends of Palestine & Middle East
Richard Burden MP, Labour Party
Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party
Amelia Womack, Deputy Leader, Green Party
Paul Maskey MP, Sinn Féin
Elisha McCallion MP, Sinn Féin
Mickey Brady MP, Sinn Féin
Chris Hazzard MP, Sinn Féin
Barry McElduff MP, Sinn Féin
Francie Molloy MP, Sinn Féin
Michelle Gildernew MP, Sinn Féin
Tommy Sheppard MP, Scottish National Party
Stewart Hosie MP, Scottish National Party
Philippa Whitford MP, Scottish National Party
Lord Norman Warner, Crossbench
Bob Doris MSP, Scottish National Party
Ben McPherson MSP, Scottish National Party
Ruth Maguire MSP, Scottish National Party
Sandra White MSP, Scottish National Party
James Dornan MSP, Scottish National Party
Clare Haughey MSP, Scottish National Party
Ivan McKee MSP, Scottish National Party
Bill Kidd MSP, Scottish National Party
Pauline McNeill MSP, Scottish Labour Party
Claudia Beamish MSP, Scottish Labour Party
John Finnie MSP, Scottish Green Party
Rona MacKay MSP, Scottish Green Party
Molly Scott Cato MEP, Green Party (UK)
Keith Taylor MEP, UK Green Party (UK)
Jude Kirton-Darling MEP, Labour Party (UK)
David Martin MEP, Labour (UK)
Julie Ward MEP, Labour Party (UK)
Luisa Morgantini former MEP, Italy
Ivo Vajgl MEP, Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia
UK ORGANISATIONS AND TRADE UNIONS
Len McCluskey, General Secretary, Unite the Union
Bert Schouwenburg, International Officer, GMB
Mick Cash, General Secretary, RMT
Sally Hunt, General Secretary, UCU
Matt Wrack, General Secretary, FBU
Mick Whelan, General Secretary, ASLEF
Lindsey German, Convenor, Stop the War Coalition
Hugh Lanning, Chair, and Ben Jamal, Director, Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Dr Omer El Hamdoon, President of The Muslim Association of Britain
Rev Chris Rose, Director, Amos Trust
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine
Justice for Palestinians, Leamington Spa
Sara Apps, Director, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions UK
Friends of Sabeel
Kairos Britain

ACADEMICS, ACTIVISTS, ARTISTS:

Adam Hanieh, SOAS
Laleh Khalili, SOAS
Rafeef Ziadah, SOAS
Bill Bowring, Birkbeck
Eyal Weizman, Goldsmiths
Ilan Pappé, Exeter
Judith Butler, Berkeley University of California
Mahmood Mamdani, Columbia University
Sara Ahmed, independent scholar and feminist writer
Aamer Anwar, Rector of Glasgow University and Human Rights Lawyer
Brian Eno, musician and campaigner
Ken Loach, director
John Rees, broadcaster and writer

PALESTINIAN ORGANIZATIONS AND UNIONS:

Addameer, Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
Agricultural Development Association
Arab Center for Agricultural Development
Alrowwad, Cultural and Arts Society
Arab Agronomists Association
Asala, Palestinian Businesswomen’s Association
Bisan Center for Research and Development
Burj Al-luqluq, Social Center Society
Defense for Children International
Economic and Social Development Center of Palestine
Hawwa, Society for Culture and Arts
Health, Development, Information and Policy Institute
Health Work Committees Palestine
Legal Aid and Human Rights Center
Land Research Center
Ma’an Development Center
Mothers School Society
Najdeh Association
Popular Art Center
The Palestinian Farmers’ Union
Palestinian Medical Relief Society
Palestinian Union of Health Care Committees
Palestinian Working Woman Society for Development
Rural Women’s Development Society
Society of St. Yves
Palestinian Youth Union
Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling

 

INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS:

European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine
Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Robert Soeterik, Chair, Netherlands Palestine Committee
Jeff Halper, Co-Founder, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Finland
Diensten Onderzoek Centrum Palestina, Netherlands
ViaVelo Palestina, Belgium
Plateforme Watermael-Boitsfort Palestine, Belgium
Asian Peasant Coalition (representing 43 member organisations across 11 Asian countries)
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines)
Pagkakaisa para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Unity for Genuine Agrarian Reform), Philippines
Tanggol Magsasaka (Peasant Network for Land, Justice and Human Rights), Philippines
Resistance and Solidarity against Agrochemical TNCs (RESIST), Philippines
The Association of Norwegian NGOs for Palestine
Palestina Solidariteit
The Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden
Belgian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Netherlands Palestine Committee
BDS Berlin
Checkpoint Singers, Brussels
Palestina Solidariteit vzw, Belgium
Stefano Casi, Vice President, Assopace Palestina, Italy

 

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