The Defense Ministry and Civil Administration complained Tuesday that the thousands of faxes calling on the government to cancel the demolition of the Palestinian village are disrupting their work and threatened to get the police to stop the campaign.
Over 300 faxes were sent on Tuesday morning alone to the Defense Ministry offices as part of the “S.O.S. Susya” campaign launched by several Israeli anti-occupation organizations to raise awareness and actively oppose the planned demolition of the small Palestinian village of Susya, in Area C of the southern West Bank. A simple click on the campaign’s website automatically sends 5 faxes to the relevant authorities. Thus far, 12,500 faxes have been transmitted to the Defense Ministry and the Civil Administration, which has apparently severely disrupted both institutions’ ongoing work. (When Haaretz‘s report in Hebrew came out earlier today, they were at 10,000 faxes.)
According to Israeli activist Sahar Vardi, the Defense Ministry is so annoyed by the inpouring of faxes that one of the secretaries there has even threatened to call on the police to intervene and put a stop to it. Vardi sent her fax this morning along with her personal contact information, in case someone at the ministry wanted to consult with her about how to solve the issue in Susya. Ten minutes after she sent the fax, she was surprised to get an email from a secretary asking if they could talk on the phone. She called Vardi and told her that they got over 200 faxes today alone that are jamming their machines and disrupting their work and told her it has to stop.
“I told her that I only sent one fax, and that the demolition of an entire village kind of disrupts people’s lives so maybe the Defense Ministry’s work ought to be disrupted a bit,” Vardi recounted to +972. “She demanded I tell everyone to stop sending faxes or she would involve the police. I asked her if she was threatening to call the police because I sent a fax in a democratic country. She replied by commenting, ‘Isn’t it a waste of paper?'” Apparently the Israeli military complex does not grasp the notion of the right to grassroots activism and lobbying that are supposed to be granted by liberal democracies.
On June 12, the IDF Civil Administration issued 52 demolition orders for Susya based on the claim that Palestinians residents are building illegally without permits – a claim made practically everywhere in East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank – where Israel has an explicit policy of prohibiting Palestinians from building. (Read Amira Hass’ instructive article on the double standard of the application of this principle.
The faxes are part of a broader campaign launched last month by five Israeli anti-occupation organizations: Ta’ayush, Combatants for Peace, Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement and Rabbis for Human Rights. The coalition organized a large protest in Susya on Friday June 22 which brought together hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians in solidarity with the tiny village of only 350 residents.
The groups then launched a Facebook campaign asking people to take a photo of themselves inside or outside of their house (a place they wouldn’t want to be demolished either ) and then upload it to the campaign’s Facebook page: “I Stand With Susiya: No to Demolition!” So far thousands of people have engaged in this action, and thousands more have been exposed to the campaign page, which has produced six different posters, like this one:
The faxes campaign launched a week ago is currently operating only in Hebrew, which means the 12,500 faxes are all from Israelis. The success thus far seems to indicate that more Israelis are becoming aware of the state’s policy of discrimination and land theft in Area C (60%) of the West Bank, which may have gotten an extra push after a report Monday that Defense Minister Barak ordered the demolition of eight villages in that area to make way for IDF training exercises.
The coalition told +972 it is talking about extending the campaign to foreigners.
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