Photo: PIC
Photo: PIC

Nazareth, 12 Rajab 1436/11 May 2015 (MINA) – Israel’s treatment of Khirbet Susiya and its residents illustrates its systemic use of planning laws to prevent Palestinians in Area C, which is under full Israeli control, from construction and development that meet their needs, B’Tselem organization said in a report issued on Sunday (10/5).

Most Palestinians in the area live in villages where the Israeli authorities have refused to draw up master plans and connect them to water and power supplies, under various pretexts. With no other choice, the residents eventually build homes without permits and subsequently live under constant threat of demolition and expulsion, according to the report, Palestinian Information Center (PIC) quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

“This policy is intended to serve the goal, explicitly declared by Israeli officials in the past, of taking over land in the southern Hebron hills in order to formally annex it to Israel in a permanent-status agreement with the Palestinians, and annex it de facto until such a time.”

In implementing this policy, Israel is acting in contradiction to its obligation to care for the needs of West Bank residents as the occupying power there. This is a grave breach of the prohibition in international humanitarian law on forced transfer of residents of an occupied territory, the Israeli leftist organization explained.

The report pointed out that Israel has been abusing the residents of Khirbet Susiya for many years: the army and the Civil Administration have repeatedly removed the residents from their homes, in which they have lived since before 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank.

The authorities also systematically refrain from protecting the residents of Khirbet Susiya from settlers who attack them or vandalize their property, and restrict their free access to the main town in the district, Yatta, it added.

Over the years, the villagers petitioned the High Court of Justice several times against demolition of their homes, requesting that they be permitted to build legally. However, the Court repeatedly adopted formalistic arguments and refused to force the authorities to fulfill their obligations, which include drawing up a master plan for the village and not demolishing homes there, so that the residents can continue to live in the place in reasonable conditions.

In contrast to Israeli settlers in the West Bank, Palestinian residents there are considered “protected persons” under international humanitarian law. The violation of their rights is especially blatant given the active support provided by Israeli authorities to construction and expansion of settlements in the area, even when they are established in contravention of Israeli law. (T/P006/R04)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)