“Susiya—it will soon be finished,” says Ahmad, as he herds his sheep to graze on the fields surrounding his village. In Susiya (sometimes spelled “Susya”), the fear of demolition never goes away. The village has been demolished and displaced several times, most recently in 2001. This small village in the South Hebron Hills of Palestine is once again being threatened with demolition by the Israeli government. Susiya’s 340 residents, including 120 children, are at imminent risk of forced displacement.

In this evocative video, featuring United Church partner EAPPI (Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel), residents of Susiya speak out against the demolitions and takeover of their community.

Last May, Israel’s High Court of Justice had ordered the army to demolish Susiya. International pressure (including a strong response from many United Church folks) followed. In a recent post on our At the Heart of Justice blog, returned Ecumenical Accompanier Patricia Mercer describes her experiences providing a protective presence and public witness in Susiya during this time. Ultimately, the Israeli government postponed the 2015 demolitions and resumed negotiations with Susiya residents.

However, the situation is critical once again. On August 1, Israel’s High Court gave the new Minister of Defense two weeks to decide whether to continue negotiations. This decision is expected soon. In the absence of dialogue, it will be up to the Israeli High Court to decide if it will accept the state's request to demolish 40 percent of the village.

Take Action

Please take action today. Write to our elected representatives, asking them to act urgently for the sake of justice for the people of Susiya.

  1. Write to The Hon. Stephan Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Ask that Canada issue a public statement calling directly on the Israeli government to immediately freeze all settlement activity and demolition orders, as well as cancel all transfer plans. A sample letter is available under Downloads, below .
  2. Join Rabbis for Human Rights’ Save Susya campaign. Rabbis for Human Rights is a solidarity partner of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) and the United Church.
  3. Share this Take Action on your social media networks. Use the hashtags #UCCan, #SaveSusiya, #Israel, #Palestine.

Background

The United Church of Canada has a long history of working with others to seek peace with justice in Israel and Palestine. This work is rooted in the gospel mandate to be peacemakers and in response to the calls of Palestinian and Israeli partners.

The repeated demolitions of Susiya are a violation of international law. As the occupying power, Israel is bound by international humanitarian law to protect the Palestinian civilian population and administer the territory for their benefit. International law also prohibits the destruction of private property and the forced transfer or displacement of civilians.

Susiya is just one among dozens of Palestinian communities facing the increased threat of demolition, displacement, and loss of land. According to figures from United Church solidarity partner B’Tselem, a human rights organization, the Israeli government demolished more structures in the first six months of 2016 than in all of 2015. In early August 2016, demolitions were carried out in the Palestinian village Umm Al Kheir in Area C in the West Bank.

United Church partners on the ground indicate that this worrisome trend is set to continue. Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are proliferating at an accelerated rate.

For more information about current activities, see Unsettling Goods: Choose Peace in Palestine and Israel

Send your letters and e-mails to:

The Hon. Stéphane Dion
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
E-mail: stephane.dion [at] international.gc.ca

Peter Kent
The Conservative Party
E-mail: peter.kent [at] parl.gc.ca

Hélène Laverdière
New Democratic Party
E-mail: helene.laverdiere [at] parl.gc.ca

Luc Thériault
Bloc Québécois
E-mail: luc.theriault [at] parl.gc.ca

Elizabeth May
Green Party of Canada
E-mail: elizabeth.may [at] parl.gc.ca

Your member of Parliament—you can find your MP’s email or postal address by entering your postal code here.

Send copies of your letters and e-mails to:

Christie NeufeldtProgram Coordinator, Public Witness416-231-7680 ext. 4078
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4078
cneufeldt [at] united-church.ca

For more information, contact:

Wendy GichuruProgram Coordinator Africa & Middle East Partnership Program416-231-7680 ext. 4038
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4038
wgichuru [at] united-church.ca