UN Report: Susiya Village Faces a High Risk of Forced Displacement

03 Apr
2:50 PM

A report published by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for the occupied Palestinian territory (OCHAoPt) states that a Palestinian village is facing a high risk of forced displacement.The report said that the village of Susiya in the south Hebron hills in the West Bank is very close to an Israeli settlement and a military base, which is putting this village at risk of forced displacement, ‘due to the lack of adequate planning and its close proximity to an Israeli settlement.’

These characteristics make the community a “high priority” for demolitions, according to the Israeli Civil Administration’s (ICA) criteria applied in Area C. In response to a petition filed by a settler group to the Israeli High Court, the State indicated in March 2012 that it would act soon against outstanding demolition orders in Susiya.

The village’s community has lived there since before 1948 and currently it has 350 residents, 120 of whom are children, and is located in Area “C”, under total Israeli control. In 1983 Israel built the settlement of Suseya next to the village in addition to a settlemnt outpost in 2002. According to Rabbis for Human Rights the two settler spots control land that is ten times larger than the built-up area of both settlements, much of which is privately-owned Palestinian land.

The residents of Susiya used to live in houses, but these were destroyed by the Israeli Authorities, however they live now in tents and tin shelters.

The report added that “access to land for residents has been progressively reduced due to settlement construction and settler violence, with a negative impact on livelihoods and security as residents have less space for herding and cultivation.”

The Israeli authorities are planning to expand the settlements at the expense of the well-being of the villagers of Susiya. Israel has never approved a master plan for the village without which the villagers have no chance to obtain a permit for construction on their lands, which is not the case in the nearby settlements.

“There is a clear pattern of discrimination between Susiya and the nearby settlements, particularly regarding planning and zoning. Suseya settlement has an approved plan that allows construction. While the structures in the nearby outpost lack a building permit, the ICA has carried out no demolitions and the outpost is connected to the water and electricity networks,” the UN report said.

The reports concludes by saying that ”Susiya residents are exposed to systematic intimidation and abuse from settlers, in cases triggering forced displacement.” Incidents recorded include physical assaults, verbal harassment and prevention of access to land. This phenomenon has had a damaging psycho-social impact on residents, particularly on children, the report adds.

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George Rishmawi

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