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The Facts about the Arab encampment near Susiya

A historical village? Not really!    The claim that this is an Arab village which existed hundreds of years, or even decades, is completely false. According to travelers in the 19th century, and from surveys of villages and population conducted by the British mandatory powers in 1945, which mention all of the villages in the area and even some of the inhabitants, there is no hint of the existence of a village named Susiya, except as an ancient archeological site. This rocky land on which this illegal encampment is situated served the purpose of grazing land. In those days, only during the grazing months, the caves in the area provided temporary protection for the shepherds from the village of Yatta from robbers, wild animals, and inclement weather. Aerial photographs testify that in this place, there never was any settlement before the year 2000, except for 4 or 5r structures which were built illegally during the late 1990’s.

Jewish history. In the archealogical excavations on the ancient site, there was found an ancient Jewish settlement which dated from the 4th to the 9th centuries of the Common Era. According to the scholars, this was a thriving Jewish community, which existed hundreds of years after the destruction of the Second Temple, and achieved the height of its development at the end of the Byzantine period, and at the beginning of the old Arab period. On the site, they discovered a large synagogue, ritual baths, homes, community buildings, and other structures. Further, in 1986, 277 dunam in the area were allocated to establish an archaeological site, and from then on, it was forbidden for the shepherds to use the old caves. At first, during the grazing seasons, the shepherds came and put up tents and —- for the period of the grazing, but in the last decade, the Nawaja family has tried to take permanent control over the area.

Not an expulsion—an eviction of squatters. Research in the population registries of the Civil Administration indicates that the majority of the families found in the illegal encampment owned homes in the village of Yatta. The Najawa family, who lives in Yatta, seized control of lands which do not at all belong to them. Thus, we are not speaking of driving people off of their lands, but of evicted illegal squatters who have put up tens of structures in violation of the law.

Illegal building – At present, there are about 64 structures in the encampment, all of which were built illegally and without building permits from the authorities of the Civil Administration. 85% of these structures were put up between 2011 and 2013, by systematically ignoring the administrative orders of the supervising authorities(?) which forbid continuation of the building, and even contrary to the specific orders of the High Court of the State of Israel, which has been involved in this case since the year 2001. The Court has ruled that the claims of the squatters to ownership of the land are invalid, and there is no basis to approve building on that area.

Contempt of Court – In 2013, the High Court issued an interim order against the illegal building, which explicitly found that the is forbidden to carry out more illegal building in the encampment in addition to that which already existed. Yet, after the issuance of that order, more than 33 illegal structures were put up, which amount to more than half of the total number of structures in the encampment. To anyone who respects the law, it is clear that this is a scandal and in contempt of the rule of law.

Alternate Plan – Despite the fact that the trespassers are in possession of homes in Yatta, out of humanitarian concerns and leniency, the State of Israel agreed to allot an alternate area to the residents of the encampment, on State land, adjacent to the town of Yatta. The trespassers refused this generous offer, and in the beginning of 2012 submitted an outlined plan, seeking to legalize the illegal encampment as it currently stands, and even to enlarge its area. The plan outline that was submitted rejected by the planning authorities because of planning considerations. The Supreme Court accepted the position of the State, that it is not possible to authorize construction at this site.

Against whom have the demolition orders been issued? In February 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that it is not possible to accept the fact massive illegal construction is being carried out parallel to conducting court proceedings,. The Court ordered the demolition of the illegal construction that was carried out in violation of explicit court orders. The trespassers appealed and requested that the court order the law enforcement authorities to freeze the demolition orders. Despite the Court’s extraordinary patience in humanitarian issues exhibited towards the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria, the Court held that the legal process had run its course and rejected the petition.

Dangerous Intervention – It is difficult to comprehend the blatant intervention of Israeli and international NGOs in favor of illegal builders, continually belittling law enforcement and systematic refusal of any offer to compromise, cynically exploiting the legal process to continue illegal activities. The interim order was issued by the legal system of a sovereign state that operates according to highest principles of fairness and equity. It is highly doubtful that the legal system of the United States, Europe or any other country, would conduct itself with such a high level of tolerance and patience in a similar case.

 

Summary:

Fact: The Nawajah family lives in Yatta.

Fact:  The areas have been used over all these years as pastures by shepherds who would only temporarily come to graze their flocks.

Fact:  The entire area is an important archeological site, preserving the history of ancient Jewish settlement.

Fact:  The aerial photographs show that within in the past decade, a family is attempting to takeover the area, while refusing any compromise offered to them ex gratia.

Fact:  The Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement must prevent land grabs and efforts to take over the land, and in this spirit ordered to demolish structures built illegally and in blatant violation of the explicit orders of the Court.

 

Aerial Photo Susiya Area 2013Aerial Photo Susiya area 1999

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