Arlene from Israel: Outrage

Outrage – I’m talking about steam-coming-out-of-my-ears outrage.

The subject is the allegedly ancient Arab village of Susiya.  The issue is Israel’s rights as a sovereign state operating under rules of law.


The background, briefly:

Credit: Susiya Tourist Center.

In the Hebron Hills of Judea there are the remains of an ancient Jewish city known as Susiya, which flourished in the Talmudic era. It is estimated that about 3,000 people – all Jews, observing a religious life – lived there at its height.  Archeological remains, including a synagogue, that have been excavated can be visited today.

Still retained within the synagogue is an ancient mosaic floor:

Credit: mfa.


Not far from this archeological site, there is a modern Jewish town of Susiya.

But within the area of the archeological remains there is also an Arab squatters’ village. It consists today of some 60+ constructions of concrete, tin and canvas.  They call this village Susiya as well.  And those squatting on the land claim that their village has been there for a very long time.

The facts tell a very different story:

There is no evidence of an old Arab village there.  Aerial photos indicate that with the exception of four building constructed in the 90s, there was nothing on the site until after 2000.  In fact, when the surveys conducted by the British mandatory powers in 1945 – which mention all of the villages in the area – are examined, no mention of a village named Susiya is found.

The site had been used seasonally by Bedouin shepherds, who found shelter in the caves in the region.  But in 1986, 277 dunams (about 68 acres) of land in the area, including this location, were declared to be an archeological site, at which time the caves were no longer available to the Bedouin.

Most of the buildings went up between 2011 and 2013 in defiance of a court order forbidding the building.


Now here it gets really interesting:

When the population registry of the Civil Administration was examined, it was found that most of the people claiming to live in Susiya had homes in the nearby town of Yatta (which is in Area A under PA jurisdiction).

How about that!  They move between their real homes in Yatta and the hovels in Susiya as it serves their political purpose – they come out when an entourage of left wing activists or a cadre of journalists (also most likely left wing) is due to visit.  When I was there, on a Regavim tour, the place was empty.


What we are in fact seeing here is a land grab by the Palestinian Arab Nawajah family of Yatta, which has built illegally and in blatant violation of Israeli court orders.

Two facts must be emphasized.  One is that this matter has been thoroughly adjudicated.  That is, the courts – with due process and over a period of time – fully and fairly considered the issues.  The courts determined that the claims of the squatters were without basis, that they had been operating in contempt of court, and that the buildings that had been erected must be demolished.  This was not a determination arrived at lightly: the buildings had to come down.

And then, even though these were squatters without legal rights to the land, an offer was made to them regarding an allocation of land, in area C beyond the archeological site, near Yatta, to which they might move. But they refused and applied for legalization of their current site – which was rejected by the Court.  Aside from everything else, a village was not about to be legalized in a designated archeological area, which requires protection.

Further details can be seen here:

After multiple delays, the time now draws near for the demolition of many of the structures in illegal Arab Susiya.  It was last month that the Court ruled on this yet again.


But nothing is ever simple here in Israel, where the Western world seems to think it has a right to a say about everything we do.  This is the outrage: that others think they can tell a sovereign state that operates according to the rule of law what to do.  The interference is breathtakingly offensive.  We are forced to wonder if they would imagine interfering in the internal affairs of any other state in this fashion.

The imminent demolition of buildings in Arab Susiya has become a cause célèbre in left wing circles.  “Susiya 4ever!” they say, as if this is some noble cause.

Even a Senator – Dianne Feinstein – imagined she had a right to say something about what Israel was doing. And several NGOs have been involved.

Rabbis for Human Rights has now actually approached the High Court and asked that the demolition orders be shelved.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman will be going to the Court on Monday to present the State’s case on this.  If the State were to recommend that the demolition be shelved, the Court would likely accept this – there would be no reason not to.

Word is that Lieberman will tell the Court we must go ahead.

But the pressure on our government is unreal. With all of the hullabaloo, the worst that has happened in recent days is that the State Department has weighed in. On July 16th, State Department spokesman John Kirby let it be known that the US was “closely following developments.”

We need them to monitor what we are doing?  There is a warning implicit in this.

At a press briefing he said (emphasis added):

We strongly urge the Israeli authorities to refrain from carrying out any demolitions in the village. Demolition of this Palestinian village or of parts of it, and evictions of Palestinians from their homes, would be harmful and provocative…”


Elsewhere it has been reported that the US is putting great pressure on Israel with regard to this matter, and has indicated that if the demolition proceeds “the US response would be extremely severe.”


I hope and trust that steam is now coming out of your ears as well.

It is imperative that the Israeli government stand strong in the face of this.  Otherwise our legal system is degraded and our state is demeaned. If the US finds it can push us around here, what comes next?

Please, share this broadly, so that others can know the truth of this situation.


I promise to return to other issues very very soon.

My wishes for a Shabbat Shalom.

And then, immediately following – for those who observe – an easy fast.  On Saturday night and Sunday Tisha B’Av will be observed – a day of mourning for the destruction of our Temples and other evils that have befallen us at this time.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.


If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


“We Have Legal Grounds” –




Check Also

The Temple Mount: Whose Is It?

In early May 2021 Israeli authorities had to cope with a high level of unrest …


  1. Pack them up & Move them out!

  2. Marlene Kreitenberg

    Israel is an independent country and they have a right to do what they think is right. I would say to those who interfere like senator Feinstein not to mix in in Israels affairs or other just to
    mind her own business and is to see what she is doing for the American public.

  3. Katrina Bowes

    I thing the Israel courts should ignore the US and just demolish the houses. With an archaeological site so close they should be focusing on the protection of this site. I have been following Israel news for a while and the majority of news sites seem to blame every thing on Israel and don’t share the real facts about what is happening there. They are completely bias. (Pro-Israel Christian)

  4. Yes, I’m angry- about susiya and much more. The question is not why the US feels it has the right to push us around- after all, they pay us billions of dollars. The real question is why Israel accepts this money and who truly profits. The transparancy bill is a good (if weak) start, but we need to a) bring those inside Israel who are paid agents for hostile foreign interests, to account and b) make clear to those hostile foreign interests that we are no longer going to turn a blind eye to illegal challenges to our sovereignty. Its only a matter of time. #nullifyoslo

    • Geulah , I am taken aback by your comments.

      I don’t think the US thinks they have the right to push Israel around, it’s just the current government who thinks incumbent on them to do so. Obama and Kerry have done that since day one.

      Please don’t around thinking and saying they “PAY” Israel billions of dollars. No such thing.

      Israel receives $3.1 billion in military aid per annum from the US – which is about 20% of Israel’s military budget.

      US law mandates that the majority of that is spent in the US – in fact $2.75 billion goes back to the US – keeping US defence workers employed.

      Israeli companies operating in the US pay around $2 billion per annum in taxes.
      So in fact Israel is a net contributor to the US Treasury.

      The PA on the other hand receives $400 million in economic aid – none of it is paid back.

      As to nullifying the Oslo Accords, you cannot at this point in time expect that to happen, (pray it doesn’t) even though according to international law Israel has every claim to Judaea and Samaria. The world is a very long way off from accepting that, so for now at least Israel has every right to area C.

      Forget Oslo and put your might behind the Levy Report and Legal Grounds.