Hundreds of police and soldiers were mobilized this week for the evacuation and demolition of five illegal structures in the Bedouin settlement of Susya in the southern Hebron hills, in Area c, which, according to the Oslo Accords, is under complete Israeli control. But on Monday night, according to Ynet, the prime minister’s office was instructed to postpone the evacuation to an undetermined date. The reason, Ynet speculates, is the coming visit of Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s envoys to the peace negotiations.
The fight against the demolition of Arab homes in Susya is one of the symbols of the PA struggle against Israel’s authority over Judea and Samaria, and the Netanyahu government has been under heavy international pressure, especially in recent weeks, to prevent the demolition, which is expected to receive extensive international coverage.
Meanwhile, unafraid of international rebuke over destroying Jewish property, over the past week Israeli security forces evacuated two Jewish neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria: Netiv Ha’Avot in Gush Etzion and Tapuach West in Samaria.
The Regavim movement, which champion a petition in the High Court of Justice against the rogue outpost in Susya, issued a statement saying: “In the past week Netanyahu has implemented the demolition of the Netiv Ha’Avot neighborhood and Tapuach West, but has refrained from destroying the Palestinian Authority outpost in the southern Hebron hills. Netanyahu can’t blame the High Court and the leftist NGOs, when in practice he is authorizing strict enforcement against the settlements, and at the same time he is being feckless against the intensive illegal activity of the Palestinian Authority.”
This was the third reprieve the illegal Bedouin settlement has received since setting facts on the ground in 2010 with heavy European support. As The Washington Post reported in August, 2016, Spain donated the local school, Germany solar panels, Ireland water pumps, Norway, Italy Belgium and other countries the children’s playground. Nevertheless, according to the Post, the settlement’s makeshift structures have “more the feeling of a protest camp than a functioning Palestinian village. There are no streets, shops or mosques, and no permanent homes. There do not seem to be many people, either — giving some support to Regavim’s claim that most of the residents live in the nearby Palestinian town of Yatta.”
Before the Bedouins were imported to Susya, staring in 2010, the Israeli government’s official policy regarding the area stated: “There was no historic Palestinian village at the archaeological site there; the [existing] village consists of only a few seasonal residences for a few families.” Israel expropriated the land in 1986, stating it was “necessary for the continuation of archaeological work.”
According to Regavim, which petitioned the High Court of Justice to execute the demolition orders for Susya in 2012, the place was used seasonally before 1986, as grazing area and olive groves. Regavim issued a report citing travelers from the late 19th century who found ruins at the site, while nearby Semua was inhabited. The 1945 British Mandate census does not mention Susya, and a survey from 1967, done after Six-Day War, refers to Khirbat Susya as ruins in contrast to nearby villages such as At-Tuwani and Yatta.