During the past week, the Israeli Civil Administration distributed demolition orders in three locations in Sousiya, a herding community situated in Area C, (Hebron governorate.) The orders, which refer to demolition decisions issued in the 1990s, gave the Palestinian residents of Sousiya only three days to appeal. If these orders were implemented, 51 structures would be subsequently removed resulting in the displacement of more than 160 residents of Sousiya.
Muhammad Jaber Nawa’ja
According to Sousiya’s school director, Muhammad Jaber Al-Nawa’ja, (50 years old), his village has been subjected to on-going operations of house demolitions and the forcible transfer of its population. Muhammad recalls the first wave of demolitions in 1986, when the Israeli authorities expelled five Palestinian families from Sousiya to its eastern area claiming that the location where they lived was an archeological site. However, during the same period the Israeli authorities started building, on privately owned Palestinian land, the settlement of Sousiya, which was directly adjacent to the alleged archeological site.
Four years later, the Israeli authorities forced out the families from the eastern area of Sousiya, claiming that they lived too close to the settlement. Muhammad recalls how he and his relatives were handcuffed, put onto trucks, and dropped off at the entrance of Yatta by Israeli soldiers. This was not the last wave of demolitions endured by Sousiya; in 1993, expelled families received demolition orders on their houses that were built without permits. The residents appealed against the orders, but lost the case and their houses were demolished.
Although Sousiya’s residents had tried to obtain permits for construction or to get an approved master plan for their community, their requests had been constantly denied. The village was destroyed more than three times. When Muhammad applied for a construction permit in 2005, his request was denied as his land was deemed to be too close to a nearby street. As a result, Muhammad and his brother, along with 13 other family members, had no other option but to live in tents with little or no services or infrastructure. The wave of demolitions in Sousiya also affected the structures built with foreign humanitarian assistance provided to the people to alleviate the effects of previous demolitions. (Affidavit No. 7490/2012)
Muhammad recalls that, few months ago, the Israeli Zionist movement Regavim filed a complaint asking the Israeli High Court of Justice to issue a decision to remove illegal Palestinian construction and to restrict its expansion around Sousiya’s settlement.
On 6 June 2012, the High Court of Justice issued a decision that prohibits the Palestinian herding community of Sousiya from building any new structures.
On 12 June 2012, Israeli Civil Administration officers, accompanied by Israeli soldiers, came to Sousiya and distributed orders of demolitions to Muhammad and other families living the area, orders that referred to old decisions of demolition dating back to 1995. The new order given to Muhammad included a photo of the structures to be demolished, including seven residential tents; a shack used for their herd, a cave, a water cistern and a bathroom. Muhammad had only three days to appeal. Similar orders were issued against solar panels and two tents, measuring two and a half meters in surface that are used respectively as a medical clinic and a primary school.
Muhammad, along with the other families, instructed a lawyer, who succeeded in postponing the date of demolition to 24 June 2012. (Affidavit No. 7490/2012)