General UK Media

The ‘Palestinian village’ of Susya is neither Palestinian nor a village. (Updated)


Take a look at this recent photo published in the Financial Times.

pic ft

The photo is quite representative of UK media coverage of events in a place they’re calling “Khirbet Susya”, near the Jewish settlement of Susya – a historically Jewish town in the southern Hebron hills. The Guardian, Independent and Telegraph have all covered the story, which has been framed as an attempt by Israeli authorities to kick hundreds of Palestinians off ‘their land’ in this “Palestinian village”.

Much like the FT’s characterization of the EU-funded concrete structure covered by tarp in the staged photo as a “tent” (look at the concrete by the girl’s feet), the claim that the area is “Palestinian” and owned by local “villagers” is – according to courts who examined claims by the petitioners (the Nawajah family) – fictitious.

Based on historical and geographical accounts, aerial photography, mandatory-era maps, travelogues and the population registry, Israeli courts (HC 7530/01, 430/12, 1556/12, 1420/14) established that no such Palestinian village ever existed.  According to the NGO Regavim and the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), only a handful of families resided there since the 1980s, and it only ever served as temporary (seasonal) grazing land by Palestinian shepherds.

Aerial-Photo-Susiya-area-1999

Further, claims by the Nawajah family that they owned the land was also disproven, and the court found that the family owned a permanent residence in Yatta, in Palestinian-controlled Area A.

Additionally, the 20 illegal structures in the encampment built adjacent to an ancient Jewish archeological site represents part of a broader attempt by the EU, the PA and pro-Palestinian NGOs to establish ‘facts on the ground’ in Area C.

Jack Wallis Simons wrote this in his fascinating Daily Mail expose earlier in the year:

More than 400 EU-funded Palestinian homes have been erected in Area C of the West Bank, which was placed under Israeli jurisdiction during the Oslo Accords – a part of international law to which the EU is a signatory.

The Palestinian buildings, which have no permits, come at a cost of tens of millions of Euros in public money, a proportion of which comes from the British taxpayer.

This has raised concerns that the EU is using valuable resources to take sides in a foreign territorial dispute.

Finally, the charge that, if the Palestinian petitioners lose the case, they will be rendered homeless is also not true, according to the MFA:

[They] have been offered plots of similar, or even better, quality in a nearby area that already conforms to planning and zoning laws. Building houses there will also improve the petitioners’ quality of life, giving them access to infrastructure and educational facilities that are not available in their current illegal locations. Additionally, they will be allowed to continue the same agricultural activities on the lands they currently claim.

Susya is neither “Palestinian” nor a “village”. It can more accurately be described – to use the parlance of foreign journalists when reporting on Jews in similar situations in the West Bank – an illegal Palestinian settlement. 

See important updates to this story here and here 

21 replies »

  1. The front page of today’s Haaretz (26 July) carries the story that an internal memo of the Civil Administration has recognized that the Jabour family have a kushan or deed of ownership, issued by the Ottoman authorities and dating back to 1881 covering about 3000 dunams of Susya village. This area apparently includes that claimed by the Nawaja family referred to in your article.

    Assuming that the courts will be examining the deed in the near future, wholesale conclusions concerning Susya’s definition as ” neither Palestinian nor a village” are clearly premature. It seems advisable that you take a leaf out of your own book and make some necessary corrections to the article.

    • And you, Sir, are clearly premature in accusing UK Media Watch of not examining the facts. IF these deeds are bonafide [as you so gleefully state that the anti-Israel newspaper, Haaretz claims} then have no fear: this website will make the correction. This website does not conceal the truth.

      Every single day I witness online lies and disinformation about the Jewish state presented as FACT. And every single day websites such as this one are able, with evidence, to refute the untruths.

      You, Sir, would do well to put your own Israel-accusing house in order.

    • The “deed of ownership” is nothing of the sort. It is a lie:

      But when the Civil Lands Authority last week issued the stop-work orders, the first step towards demolition orders, the left-wing movements and the Palestinian Authority reinvented history.

      “The Palestinian village of Khirbet [ruins of] Susiya has existed in the South Hebron Hills at least since the 1830.”

      The International Solidarity Movement wrote last week, “The residents of Susiya include more than 30 families, who were all evacuated from their homes in the old Susiya village and forced to relocate 200 meters to the southeast, in 1986,”

      It is a lie. They never lived there, not in 1830 and not in 1986 and not in 1996. A handful of Arabs sowed the land in the spring, harvest the crop in the late summer and went back to Yatta. Period.

      From the Regavim organization who have thoroughly researched the facts about Susiya:

      he claim that this is an Arab village which existed hundreds of years, or even decades, is completely false. According to travelers in the 19th century, and from surveys of villages and population conducted by the British mandatory powers in 1945, which mention all of the villages in the area and even some of the inhabitants, there is no hint of the existence of a village named Susiya, except as an ancient archeological site. This rocky land on which this illegal encampment is situated served the purpose of grazing land. In those days, only during the grazing months, the caves in the area provided temporary protection for the shepherds from the village of Yatta from robbers, wild animals, and inclement weather. Aerial photographs testify that in this place, there never was any settlement before the year 2000, except for 4 or 5r structures which were built illegally during the late 1990’s.

      Dangerous Intervention – It is difficult to comprehend the blatant intervention of Israeli and international NGOs in favor of illegal builders, continually belittling law enforcement and systematic refusal of any offer to compromise, cynically exploiting the legal process to continue illegal activities. The interim order was issued by the legal system of a sovereign state that operates according to highest principles of fairness and equity. It is highly doubtful that the legal system of the United States, Europe or any other country, would conduct itself with such a high level of tolerance and patience in a similar case.

      Read the whole thing. Educate yourself. And then come back and give Adam and all of us the apology that you so arrogantly demanded for yourself.

  2. A deed from 1881 isn’t worth the piece of paper it was written on. When the Ottoman Empire picked the wrong side in World War I the victors, Britain and France, broke up the Ottoman Empire into Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan. No Ottoman authorities, no claim to the land.

  3. I hope this site will be turning similar scrutiny on the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but I won’t hold my breath.

    • This site doesn’t need to scrutinize Jewish settlements. Nearly all Jewish settlements were established on Jewish-owned land which was either theirs for centuries or was legally bought with title deeds and land registration – despite the Arab denial of such sales for fear of getting the death sentence from their antisemitic Arab overlords. Moreover, they get plenty of scrutiny from the Israeli judicial system, the army, the international media, international NGOs and foreign governments.

      However there is no such scrutiny at all regarding Palestinian encroachment on Israeli land and their outright land theft. It’s about time someone turned the spotlight onto the illegal Palestinian occupation and theft of Jewish land.

    • As soon as Arnie spends 100% of his energy fighting injustices in his own house, city, country, I might take his self-righteous morality to point. But until then, he’s just another hot air blowing, Israel bashing opportunist who brings the same tired, bullshit accusations to the table every damn time.

      Gee, I wonder why the Palestinians don’t have a state yet. I mean, ISRAEL HAD ONLY MADE 3 OFFERS IN 10 YEARS. It’s as if the Palestinians don’t want autonomy.

      But, oh yeah, West Bank and stuff.

    • “..but I won’t hold my breath.”

      Please do, Arnie. Try 48 hours and preferably under water.

      “I’ll be back” or is that a different Arnie?

  4. “See an important update to this story, concerning ownership of the land in question, here.”

    All credit to this site’s editor for including the above link, in italics, to the Times of Israel, which refers to the news of the memo reported in Haaretz the same morning. Hopefully, a proper judicial review will be undertaken soon so that the issue of Susya which has dragged on for so many years, will be resolved.