Court hears petitions on fate of Palestinians in Sussiya

Villagers from Jewish part Sussiya seek to expedite demolition of portions of the Palestinian village; Palestinians seek access to farm land.

Sussiya 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Sussiya 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The High Court of Justice on Thursday heard two petitions affecting the future of the Palestinian part of the village of Sussiya.
One of the petitions, filed by the Regavim organization and villagers from the Jewish part of Sussiya, is to expedite the demolition of portions of the Palestinian village.
Although the IDF has ordered the demolitions, Regavim believes the IDF has been too slow to carry them out, permitting continued new “illegal” building activities.
Regavim previously obtained a temporary injunction from the High Court barring any new building by the area’s Palestinians.
The other petition, filed by some of the Palestinian villagers and various human rights groups, seeks to restore the villagers’ access to 300 hectares (741 acres) of land that they are currently being blocked from farming.
The Palestinians allege that a combination of attacks from Jewish settlers, and the villagers’ unjustified and unexplained eviction from their land by IDF and police, is preventing them from farming their land.
They also claim that the police and IDF fail to investigate complaints of violent acts committed against them.
The court did not render any decisions, but the arguments between the sides were heated.
Responding to accusations of new illegal building, the Palestinians’ attorney said the structures being called new were preexisting structures with some additional insulation for the winter, and that the villagers were “living in the most minimal living conditions; it is not like they are building villas. These are structures for bare survival.”
Regavim’s attorney, in turn, blasted the Palestinian villagers, saying they were playing games with the court by asking for more time to propose ways to legalize their village, when “there is no way to legalize the [Palestinian] village. There is no logic in planning two [Palestinian] villages next to the Jewish village of Sussiya.”
Prior to the hearing, Rabbis for Human Rights said that the future of the Palestinian part of Sussiya remained “shrouded in doubt after its original inhabitants were driven from their homes in the 1980s, when the area was declared a closed archeological zone, and Palestinians were barred from entering.”
The organization added that the Palestinians had “no other options and no alternative location,” so the residents “moved to their nearby farmlands, where they were refused building.”
RHR also claimed that “the authorities’ behavior is in violation of Israeli, international humanitarian, and human rights law, which require the occupying military government to protect the local Palestinian population and its fundamental rights.”
Regavim said prior to the hearing that just days before, the Palestinians had audaciously violated the court’s prior building freeze order by building three new structures.
Presiding Supreme Court President Asher D. Grunis decided to hold the hearings on the same day, though the two petitions have not been formally consolidated.
It is uncertain when the court will rule on the two petitions, one of which dates back to 2010.