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Urgent action – please sign our online petition
Our online petition asks Foreign Minister Bob Carr to make urgent representations to Israel’s Ambassador in Australia regarding the need to lift the demolition orders on the fifty one (51) structures in the village of Susiya, near Hebron, including a clinic funded by Action Aid Australia and solar panels funded by EU countries.
More information here or go straight to the petition at http://www.communityrun.org/petitions/help-save-susiya-village-clinic-and-solar-panels
Please let Minister Carr know you expect him to act to protect this investment of the Australian taxpayer and the homes of Susiya villages.
SUSIYA: A COMMUNITY AT-RISK OF FORCED DISPLACEMENT
The herding community of Susiya in south Hebron is among the most vulnerable to forced displacement, due to its location in Area C, as well as its close proximity to an Israeli settlement, a settlement outpost, and a military base.
Susiya has a population of some 350 people, including 120 children. Residents of Susiya, who have been living in the area for decades, dwell in basic shelters, mainly tents and shacks, and rely on agriculture and herding for their livelihood. Access to land, however, ha been progressively reduced due to settlement construction and settler violence. According to residents, to date they are able to access less than one-third of the approximately 6,000 dunums of land that were available to them for residential, agricultural and herding purposes prior to the establishment of the settlement of Suseya in 1983. Three years later, the authorities forcibly evicted 60 Palestinian families, who were residing in one part of the community, which was declared a national park, due to its proximity to the ruins of a Roman church. Subsequent to that eviction, six Israeli families established an “unauthorized outpost” inside the National Park. The settlement and the outpost currently control land that is seven times larger than the built-up area of both settlements.
Like most Area C communities, the Israeli authorities have never approved a “master plan” for Susiya, leaving residents unable to obtain permits for construction. Susiya has endured several waves of demolitions since 1990. In 2001, all residential and livelihood structures in the community were demolished and the residents were forcibly evicted by the Israeli authorities. The residents appealed to the High Court of justice (HCJ) to return to their land and re-build the structures. Later in 2001, the court ruled on their favor. In 2011, Susiya experienced four waves of demolitions in 2011, targeting a total of 41 structures, of which 31 were residential tents and shacks, repeatedly displacing 37 people (including 20 children), and affecting the wellbeing and livelihood of an additional 70 people. During these incidents, Israeli forces demolished and confiscated humanitarian assistance that had been provided in response to earlier demolitions. Currently, about half of the residences and livelihood structures in the community, as well as the school, have pending demolition orders.
Susiya residents are also exposed to regular violence from nearby settlers, in cases triggering forced displacement. In one incident in September 2011, settlers set fire to a residential tent, injuring one Palestinian and displacing a family of 12, including seven children.
“There is no longer a sense of peace and security as there is always the threat of settler attacks. It is particularly difficult to see how my children have lost their sense of security; they now have nightmares about settlers and soldiers attacking them. There are no recreational facilities for them and they are afraid to play too far away from the family home for fear of being attacked.”- testimony by a mother in Susiya, given to OCHA
Susiya residents rely on rainwater harvesting cisterns, as the community is not connected to the water network and there are no nearby water filling points. However, according to the village council, since 2001, the Israeli authorities have demolished 12 cisterns, in and around Susiya, and have issued demolition orders against 20 others. Two of these cisterns were demolished in 2011. As a result, many residents are increasingly dependent on purchasing expensive tankered water, leaving the average household to spend one-third of its income on water per year, while nearby Israeli settlers pay 20 percent of the price.According to the WASH cluster, water consumption in Susiya is 28 litres/ capita/day,significantly less than the 70 litres/capita/day consumed by an average Palestinian and well below the WHO standard of a minimum of 100 liters/capita/day.
Yesterday, Israeli CA distributed three maps of three locations /areas in Susiya, whereby 51 structures are included indicating that demolition will take place of these structures and giving the locals 3 days to object. If demolition happens, it will displace more than 160 people.
On the legal approach, Rabbis for Human Rights submitted a request for the Civil Administration asking for more time to object, the lawyer anticipate that the CA will give another chance no later than next Tuesday (19 June 2012). During this period the lawyer will submit the objection to the CA, which as she said will be refused immediately. The next step is to submit a petition to the HCJ to freeze the order, while the records show that the court has not been issuing such orders recently. Hence, the hope for freezing the demolition is very little.
OCHA office in the South is discussing with the locals the possible mitigation measures that can be taken to make the suffering less in case of demolition. This includes the allocation of temporary shelters (we are thinking of the school) and the dismantling of some structures to be used immediately as emergency shelters.
There are already a group of EAPPI and ISM who showed interest in staying in the community during the coming days.
Legal path is being exhausted to stop the demolition, therefore other supporting moves are needed on the advocacy and diplomacy levels.
Contingency plan should be developed to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of more than 160 people, if and when demolition happens.
International donors funded projects included in the demolition orders are:
- Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs : funded a dairy production facility through a Palestinian NGO
- ECHO funded 4 residential shelters through GVC
- ECHO funded 3 animal shelters through Save the Children UK (SCUK) in partnership with UAWC
- ECHO funded 2 cisterns one through ACF and the other through SCUK.
- Action Aid Australia funded a shelter to be used as a clinic, currently operated by the Palestinian Relief Committees
- German Ministry of Foreign Affairs funded a solar energy / electricity system through the Israeli NGO COMET ME
For more information contact: