Thursday, July 18, 2013

Third Thursday Alert: Stop Forced Displacement in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

This alert is a part of the ecumenical advocacy community's  Third Thursdays for Israel-Palestine. Stay tuned every month for updates from the Middle East!

On June 27th, 2013 the Israeli civil administration in the West Bank issued 34 demolition orders against Palestinian homes and buildings in the village of Susiya. This follows the issuance of 52 demolition orders against structures in the village in August 2012. Every structure in the village is now under threat of demolition and the community’s 250 residents are all at risk of being forcibly displaced from their homes.

This is not the first time that the residents of Susiya have been in this position. In 1986 Israel declared the site of the original village a national park and forcibly displaced all of the village’s 400 residents from their homes. Villagers quickly resettled in caves, tents, and homes they built on land that they owned nearby. The Israeli military completely destroyed this new community in 2001, and mass demolitions of rebuilt homes and structures have occurred on several occasions since then. Nearly half of the village population has been permanently forcibly displaced from their homes and village as a result of these demolitions.

The forced displacement of Palestinians in Susiya is not unique. Nearby herding communities including Safai, Majaz, Tabban, Fakhit, Halaweh, Mirkez, Jinba, and Hillet A-Dab are all threatened with demolition because the Israeli military has declared the area where they are located a closed military zone (known as Firing Zone 918). Palestinians in Fasayil, Jerusalem, Al-Aqaba, Beit Lahiya, Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah, and more than 100 other communities across the occupied Palestinian territory also live under the constant threat of being forcibly displaced.

Additionally, on June 24th the Knesset approved the first reading of the Prawar-Begin Plan which, if passed, would result in the destruction of up to 35 Negev area villages and the displacement of between 30,000 and 70,000 Bedouin from these villages into overcrowded and impoverished townships.

The 216th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church urged that the security of Israel is “inexorably dependent” upon the “dignity of persons, land property, safety of home, freedom of movement, the rights of refugees to return to the homeland, the right of a people to determine their political future, and to live in peace and prosperity.” For these conditions to be met, the forced displacement of Palestinians from their historic homes and villages in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel must end as soon as possible.

The United States must use its relationship with Israel to ensure that human rights are not violated, that Palestinians in these communities are not displaced, and that these communities’ rights to safety and basic services are fulfilled.

Take action--ask that your legislators demand an end to Israeli government policies and practices which contribute to a coercive environment that forces Palestinians to leave their land their homes and to implement a full moratorium on demolition orders.