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The fear of house demolition

June 25, 2012

House demolitions are probably one of the worst evils of the occupation – yet this practice has existed in Israel since its foundation. Recently, the cases of Susya and Migron made headlines in the news. From the talkbacks and forums discussing this topic, some seem to justify that if Jews are evicted from the houses why shouldn’t the Palestinians.

Comparisons are often tedious but in the context of house demolitions in Area C it can not be done symmetrically. Those falling into this trap must be aware it is Israel’s responsibility to provide the Palestinians the resources of living while maintaining the occupation of Area C – 60% of theWest Bank.

There are similarities between Susya and Migron – both located in Area C with about 45 families of 300 people living in 50 structures, approximately. Both places appear in the bible, belong privately to Palestinians and most importantly face demolition. Nevertheless, the demolition of Susya has no paragon with the demolitions of Migron and here is why.

Susya residents have lived in the area peacefully for generations as a farming community in their privately own land until 1986 when they were expelled after Israeli archeologists found the remnants of a synagogue. They moved to a nearby terrain belonging to them and still they face eviction for a fifth time. This is a common case of law breaking as demolishing these structures while not providing any planning schemes for the population is a violation of international law. Adding the lack of accountability in over 50 cases of settler violence against the residents of the village makes matter worse.

Migron residents have a different agenda than the Palestinian farming community of Susya. They are religious Zionist and claim G-d gave them the land – when G-d couldnt provide the valid documents asked by the Court to prove land ownership the documents were forged – a punishable crime in most western democracies. Yet, despite setting up illegal structures, expanding them and forging documents they have the unconditional support of the government including benefits such as water, electricity and security the residents of Susya can dream of. The Israeli government is enforcing the law by evacuating the illegal outpost. Sadly,Israel cannot enforce its own laws as the Knesset is now compensating the residents by relocating them to another illegal outpost, costing the Israeli taxpayer millions of shekels, and discarding both Israeli and international law.

Regavim, an Israeli organization is at the core of these disputes. The organization’s role is supposed to preserve the natural resources of the State of Israel so why has Regavim petitioned to demolish the structures in Susya while petitioned against government destruction of the illegal outposts of Migron.

The irony of their work and the response of the state are beyond rationale as petitions to demolish the village of Susya sees the green light while unconditional commitment to the support of the illegal outsposts persists.

How can anyone possibly compare the two? Law breaking and law enforcing should not be compared. The decisions to relocate and compensate extremist religious settlers for building illegally on Palestinian land not only bypass the High Court of Justice rulings but undermine the very essence of any democratic and liberal stand of the Israeli entity, Needless to say what it means to demolish a farmer community village to make room for more settlers.

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