North American and European activists from the Center for Jewish Non-Violence accompany the Palestinian residents of Susya to the site of their former village, from which they were expelled three decades ago.
A group of American and European Jews on Thursday accompanied Palestinian residents of Susya to the former site of their village, from which they were expelled 30 years ago and which today is an Israeli-administered archeological park.
Many of the 80 Palestinian residents of Susya who took the trip on Thursday had never been back to the site of their former village, where much of the older generation was born and raised. Some of the younger boys and girls had never seen the caves in which their parents grew up, despite living only a few hundred meters away.
Once at the site, after exploring some of the caves in which their families once lived, the two groups gathered outside the ancient synagogue at the site. Addressing both the foreign Jewish activists, from the Center for Jewish Non-Violence, and their own children and grandchildren, elder Palestinians from Susya began telling their stories — the stories of their lives and births, of who lived in which cave and which home, and the story of their dispossession.
To the surprise of most, not a single police officer or soldier arrived to stop the group from entering and touring the site. The Jewish activists had purchased tickets in advance for both the Palestinians and themselves, but did not tell the park administrators that Palestinians would be a part of the group.
Two park employees eventually followed the group around but did little more than count the number of visitors. When asked by +972 whether other groups of Palestinians had ever been allowed inside the site before, one employee responded with only: “I’m new here.”
+972 plans to bring you more on this tour and other direct actions in Palestine by the Center for Jewish Non-Violence in the coming days and weeks.
The Israeli army first demolished the village of Khirbet Susya, deep in the desolate south Hebron Hills, three decades ago, on the grounds that it was located on a biblical site. Susya’s Palestinian residents, many of whom lived in caves on the site for generations, packed up and moved a few hundred meters away, onto adjacent agricultural land they own.
The IDF, which as the occupying power controls nearly every aspect of Palestinians’ lives in the West Bank, never recognized the validity of the move. To this day, the village has no connections to electricity or running water, and its access roads are not paved. The entire village still lives under the threat of demolition.
The European Union, United States and United Nations have all called on Israel to refrain from demolishing the current site of the village of Susya, and to provide its residents with basic services and infrastructure. Following a concerted international campaign last year, the Israeli military seems to have temporarily backed stepped back from its plans to displace Susya’s residents for a second, and in some cases, third time.
Other Palestinian villages in the area, however, have not been so lucky.